• You are here:
  • Home

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

This year's BBC Music Magazine Award nominees are now out, including 21 recordings from last year’s five-star discs across 7 different categories, chosen by a jury of critics.

Listen and discover more about the nominated albums and artists here on primephonic before heading over to the BBC Music Magazine website to vote for your favourites. By voting, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win one of two sets of each of the 21 nominees.

The winning recordings will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Kings Place on Wednesday, 19 April 2017. Voting closes on 24 February 2017 so get listening and get voting!

Enjoy 20% of all available nominated albums

Orchestral Award Nominees

TCHAIKOVSKY

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

Vasily Petrenko celebrates ten years as music director of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra with these glorious Tchaikovsky performances. The string sound is beautifully warm, the wind playing pungent, and the symphonies superbly shaped and paced. There’s idiomatic Slavonic fire and passion here without an ounce of flab.

READ MORE ABOUT THE CONDUCTOR

SIBELIUS

Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä

Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä has no need to prove his stature as one of our greatest living Sibelians, so do we need a second cycle of symphonies when his set with the Lahti Symphony Orchestra from the 1990s is so good? Your answer is right here: from the slow burn of the Third Symphony to one of the most compelling accounts of the Seventh, the playing is inspired, the SACD sound utterly superb.

DOWNLOAD NOW

COPLAND

BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson; Jonathan Scott

A timely reminder of how rigorous Copland was as an orchestral composer. John Wilson well understands the tension in this music between Copland’s American ambitions and his European training. So jazzy syncopations sit alongside whiplash Stravinskian rhythms, while American optimism is tempered by darker European thoughts in, say, the Short Symphony written in the early 1930s.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Vocal Award Nominees

SATIE

Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Reinbert de Leeuw (piano)

Reinbert de Leeuw has immersed himself in Satie’s music for many years, and helped Hannigan ‘remove herself’ from their performance of Satie’s quirky cantata Socrate. The resulting intimacy is unusually effective: conversational, enigmatic, elusive, understated, while Satie’s love songs are hypnotically beautiful. This is the outstanding new recording from Satie’s anniversary year.

READ MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

ABRAHAMSEN

Barbara Hannigan (soprano); Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons

There’s a double pleasure in this recording. Firstly, a magnificent composition by Abrahamsen who in setting Ophelia in her own reworked words creates an unexpected portrait of Shakespeare’s tragic heroine. And then there’s the effortlessly expressive soprano Barbara Hannigan, who wraps herself inside Abrahamsen’s score like a hand inside a kid glove.

DOWNLOAD NOW

MAHLER & BERIO

Matthias Goerne (baritone); Synergy Vocals; BBC Symphony/Josep Pons

Berio’s Mahler-inspired Sinfonia is perfectly coupled here with his lush orchestrations of ten of Mahler’s Lieder und Gesänge. Pons’s razor-sharp direction and the highly detailed recording illuminate the Sinfonia’s collage of voices and instruments, while Matthias Goerne’s dark-hued baritone carries all the yearning and nostalgia of Mahler’s songs.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Chamber Award Nominees

ADES, NORGARD & ABRAHAMSEN

Danish String Quartet

We seem to be knee-deep in fine young string quartets these days, but the Danish String Quartet emerges from the pack thanks to characterful playing and intelligent, adventurous programming. From the rippling delicacy of Adès’s Arcadiana to the more muscular early Abrahamsen to Nørgard’s short stories, it’s an intensely immersive experience in fascinating and rewarding sound worlds.

READ MORE ABOUT THE QUARTET

MENDELSSOHN

Escher String Quartet

The New York-based Escher Quartet revels in the Classical elegance and virtuosity of Felix Mendelssohn’s E flat Quartet No. 5, delivering playing marked by exemplary textural clarity and astonishing precision of ensemble. In the F minor Quartet No. 6 they project the desperate anxiety that lies right at the heart of the music without ever resorting to unnecessary histrionics and over-exaggerated interpretative gestures.

DOWNLOAD NOW

MARTINU

Smetana Trio

These are quite simply benchmark performances of these life-affirming works. The Smetana Trio proves hugely responsive to the Czech composer Martinů’s characteristic sprung rhythms, effervescent humour and contrasting moments of introspective lyricism. It’s an intoxicating mixture that leaves you puzzled as to why such incredible music has not yet established itself firmly in the repertory.

READ MORE ABOUT THE COMPOSER

Choral Award Nominees

STEINBERG

The Clarion Choir, Steven Fox

Written for the Russian Orthodox Church in the early 1920s by Shostakovich’s composition teacher Maximilian Steinberg, this profoundly beautiful choral piece lay forgotten for over 90 years. Performed here with breathtaking sensitivity by an outstanding New York-based choir, it emerges as a work of equal stature to Rachmaninov’s justly acclaimed Vespers. A wonderful discovery.

DOWNLOAD NOW

HARVEY

Choir of St John’s College, Andrew Nethsingha Cambridge, Edward Picton-Turbervill (organ)

While deeply committed to all that was new in European music in the second half of the 20th century, Jonathan Harvey was also essentially English. This fine collection of choral works, sung in an exemplary manner by the Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge, is a reminder of this aspect of Harvey’s music and his ever-present quest for the spiritual.

DOWNLOAD NOW

JANACEK

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choirs, Edward Gardner

With its savage organ eruptions, raw trumpet calls and crashing chorus entries, the Glagolitic Mass is stunningly original, and Edward Gardner does it proud. Harnessing several fine Norwegian choirs and Gardner’s own Bergen Phil, it’s spaciously recorded and excitingly paced. Brilliant soloists include soprano Sara Jakubiak and tenor Stuart Skelton.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Concerto Award Nominees

CPE BACH

Nicolas Altstaedt, Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen

CPE Bach creates a sense of emotional turbulence in these three concertos, their quixotic changes of mood thrillingly conveyed in Arcangelo’s informed and stylish performances. Conductor Jonathan Cohen highlights the music’s nervous tension, while cellist Nicolas Altstaedt draws on the various techniques of rhetoric so fundamental to the composer’s style.

READ MORE ABOUT THE COMPOSER

MOZART

Kristian Bezuidenhout, Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, Gottfried von der Goltz

On his period fortepiano Bezuidenhout brings an irrepressible joy and vivacity to everything he plays, as well as outstanding virtuosity and sense of style. In these three concertos he strikes up a perfect partnership with the Freiburg Baroque Orchestra, creating a chamber-like rapport that sparkles with ideas.

DOWNLOAD NOW

TCHAIKOVSKY • STRAVINSKY

Patricia Kopatchinskaja, MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis

A stunningly creative interpretation of a familiar work. Kopatchinskaja and Currentzis work together brilliantly to deliver an astonishingly vibrant and insightful performance that makes us appreciate Tchaikovsky’s originality and daring. The Stravinsky is also superlatively done.

READ MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

Opera Award Nominees

CAVALLI

Nuria Rial (soprano), Hana Blazíková (soprano); L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar

The theme of love pervades this potpourri of extracts from Cavalli’s operas: arias by turns wistful and playful from La Calisto and plaintive laments from L’Artemisia offset Queen Dido’s dramatic outpourings in La Didone. Exotic instruments weave beguiling textures around Hana Blazíková’s limpid soprano and Nuria Rial’s smokier tones.

READ MORE ABOUT THE COMPOSER

DONIZETTI

Opera Rara Chorus/Stephen Harris; Hallé/Sir Mark Elder

There are those who dislike Donizetti, but even they will be swayed by Elder’s deeply committed performance of this late and incomplete opera. The story may be fanciful, but the music of the first two acts is vintage Donizetti, and Elder’s cast sing for their lives, particularly Michael Spyres as the rebel and Laurent Naouri as the eponymous villain.

READ MORE ABOUT THE COMPOSER

MOZART

Dimitris Tiliakos, Vito Priante; MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis

This is a Don Giovanni that banishes preconceptions. The playing is brisk and brilliant, the singers sometimes more ‘theatrical’ than ‘operatic’; the party scene is a colourful whirlwind, Giovanni’s comeuppance the intended earthquake. Sometimes shocking, always exhilarating, frequently both. Refreshing and unforgettable.

DOWNLOAD NOW

Instrumental Award Nominees

JS BACH

Mahan Esfahani

Even music-lovers who normally hate the sound of the harpsichord find themselves mesmerised by Mahan Esfahani. He seems to have a magic touch on the instrument, coaxing out an extraordinary range of colour and articulations. Never has that been more evident than on this recording, where the playing matches the brilliant playfulness of Bach’s variations.

READ MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

VISEE & CORBETTA

Rolf Lislevand

Contrasting the pastel timbres of the Baroque guitar with the dark resonance of the much larger theorbo, Norwegian virtuoso Rolf Lislevand evokes both the intimacy and splendour of Louis XIV’s Versailles. His flawless, rhetorically inspired playing offsets Francesco Corbetta’s sunlit idiom with Robert de Visée’s brooding sonorities. The result is a hauntingly beautiful musical chiaroscuro.

READ MORE ABOUT THE ARTIST

FELDMAN & CRUMB

Steven Osborne

The ever-versatile pianist Steven Osborne turns his exquisite sensitivity and fierce intelligence to two of North America’s most distinctive and original 20th-century voices, Morton Feldman and George Crumb. In a programme juxtaposing their solo piano music, Crumb’s atmospheric A Little Suite for Christmas and Feldman’s shimmering last piano work Palais de Mari emerge as modern masterpieces.

READ MORE ABOUT THE COMPOSER