Icelandic pianist Víkingur Ólafsson has won the Limelight Recording of the Year 2020for his album pairing music by Debussy and Rameau on Deutsche Grammophon. This may be only his third recording for the Yellow Label, but Ólafsson has made repeated waves thanks to his distinctive and refreshing approach to programming coupled with a breathtaking clarity of technique. Clive Paget caught up with him at home in Reykjavík to discuss the pianist’s relationships with each of the two composers, how the album came together, and why, for Ólafsson, an award from an Aussie magazine is especially welcome.

Víkingur Ólafsson. Photos © Ari Magg / Deutsche Grammophon

Congratulations on winning not just LimelightInstrumental Recording of the Year, but also our overall 2020 Recording of the Year.

Thank you. It’s a huge honour. I’ll tell you a funny story. One of my pianistic idols is William Kapell, who was the teacher of my teacher at Juilliard. He was born in 1922 and died in 1953, so he was 31, which is younger than I am now. He was returning from his last tour to Australia when his plane crashed somewhere outside of San...