BBC Music Magazine Awards Winners 2017

BBC Music Magazine Awards Winners 2017

Your votes are in and have been counted, and the moment of truth has arrived! We’re delighted to reveal the winners of this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards.

Winners

Vasily Petrenko

Recording of the Year

roty
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Winner
Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 1, 2 and 5

Vasily Petrenko

Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 1, 2 and 5

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Onyx ONYX 4150

Reviewed October 2016

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.

Audio clip: Andante maestoso, Allegro vivo from Symphony No. 5 in E minor

Also Nominated

Smetana Trio

Chamber Award

Chamber Award
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Winner
Martinu's complete piano trios

Smetana Trio

MartinPiano Trios Nos 1-3; Bergerettes

Smetana Trio
Supraphon SU 4197-2

Reviewed June 2016

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.

Audio clip: Allegro from Bergerettes

Also Nominated
Adès, Nørgård & Abrahamsen string quartets

Ades, Norgard & Abrahamsen

Adès Arcadiana
Nørgård Quartetto Breve
Abrahamsen 10 Preludes

Danish String Quartet
ECM 481 2385

Reviewed August 2016

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.

Audio clip: Adès 'O Albion' from Arcadiana

Mendelssohn String Quartets Nos 5 & 6

Mendelssohn

Mendelssohn String Quartets Nos 5 & 6

Escher String Quartet
BIS BIS-2160 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed Christmas 2016

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.

Audio clip: Allegro vivace assai from String Quartet No. 6 in F minor

Choir of St John's College, Cambridge

Choral Award

Choral Award
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Winner
Harvey Choral works

Choir of St John's College, Cambridge

Harvey Missa Brevis & other choral works

Choir of St John’s College, Cambridge/Andrew Nethsingha; Edward Picton-Turbervill (organ)
Signum Records SIGCD456

Reviewed August 2016

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.

Audio clip: The Annunciation 

Also Nominated
Steinberg Passion Week

Steinberg

Steinberg Passion Week

The Clarion Choir/Steven Fox
Naxos 8.573665

Reviewed December 2016

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.

Audio clip: When The Glorious Disciples

Janáček Glagolitic Mass

Janacek

Janáček Glagolitic Mass; Adagio for Orchestra; Zdrávas Maria; Otče náš

Sara Jakubiak (soprano); Susan Bickley (mezzo); Stuart Skelton (tenor); Gábor Bretz (bass); Thomas Trotter (organ); Choir of Collegiûm Mûsicûm; Edvard Grieg Kor; Bergen Cathedral Choir; Bergen Philharmonic Choir; Bergen Philharmonic/Edward Gardner
Chandos CHSA 5165 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed May 2016

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.

Audio clip: 'Gospodi, Pomiluj' (Kyrie Eleison) from Glagolitic Mass

Nicolas Altstaedt

Concerto Award

Concerto Award
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Winner
CPE Bach Cello Concertos

Nicolas Altstaedt

CPE Bach Cello concertos in A minor, B flat major and A major

Nicolas Altstaedt (cello); Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen
Hyperion CDA 68112

Reviewed November 2016

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.

Audio clip: Allegro Assai from Cello Concerto in A major

Also Nominated
Mozart Piano Concertos

Mozart

Mozart Piano concertos, K413, 414, 415

Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano); Freiburg Baroque Orchestra/Gottfried von der Goltz
Harmonia Mundi HMC 902218

Reviewed December 2016

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

Audio clip: Tempo di Menuetto from Piano Concerto in F major, K413

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto; Stravinsky Les noces

Tchaikovsky • Stravinsky

Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto
Stravinsky Les noces

Patricia Kopatchinskaja (violin); MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
Sony Classical 88875190402

Reviewed March 2016

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.

Audio clip: Tchaikovsky Allegro Moderato from Violin Concerto in D Major

Mahan Esfahani

Instrumental Award

Instrumental Award
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Winner
JS Bach Goldberg Variations

Mahan Esfahani

JS Bach Goldberg Variations

Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
Deutsche Grammophon 479 5929

Reviewed December 2016

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.

Audio clip: Variation No. 13

Also Nominated
La Mascarade: Works for guitar and theorbo by Robert de Visée & Francesco Corbetta

Visee & Corbetta

Visée La mascarade & other works
Corbetta Passacaille en sol mineur & other works

Rolf Lislevand (Baroque guitar, theorbo)
ECM 481 1716

Reviewed November 2016

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.

Audio clip: Visée Prélude en la mineur and La mascarade, Rondeau

Feldman & Crumb piano works

Feldman & Crumb

Feldman Intermission 5; Piano Piece 1952; Extensions 3; Palais de Mari
Crumb Processional; A Little Suite for Christmas

Steven Osborne (piano)
Hyperion CDA 68108

Reviewed August 2016

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 Little Suite for Christmas and Feldman’s shimmering last piano work Palais de Mari  emerge as modern masterpieces.

Audio clip: Crumb Canticle Of The Holy Night from A Little Suite for Christmas, 'AD 1979'

Teodor Currentzis

Opera Award

Opera Award
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Winner
Mozart Don Giovanni

Teodor Currentzis

Mozart Don Giovanni

Dimitris Tiliakos, Vito Priante, Myrtò Papatanasiu, Kenneth Tarver, Karina Gauvin, Guido Loconsolo, Christina Gansch, Mika Kares; MusicAeterna/Teodor Currentzis
Sony Classical 88985316032

Reviewed Christmas 2016

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.

Audio clip: Overture and 'Là ci darem la mano'

Also Nominated
C​​​​​​​avalli L’amore innamorato

Cavalli

Cavalli L’amore innamorato

Nuria Rial (soprano), Hana Blazíková (soprano); L’Arpeggiata/Christina Pluhar
Erato 2564616643

Reviewed March 2016

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.

Audio clip: 'Restino imbalsamate' from Act III of La Calisto

Donizetti Le Duc D’Albe

Donizetti

Donizetti Le Duc d’Albe

Laurent Naouri, Michael Spyres, Angela Meade, Gianluca Buratto, David Stout, Trystan Llyr Griffiths, Robin Tritschler, Dawid Kimberg; Opera Rara Chorus/Stephen Harris; Hallé/Sir Mark Elder
Opera Rara ORC54

Reviewed May 2016

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.

Audio clip: 'Ton ombre murmure' from Act II, Scene 3

Vasily Petrenko

Orchestral Award

Orchestral Award
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Winner
Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 1, 2 and 5

Vasily Petrenko

Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 1, 2 and 5

Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko
Onyx ONYX 4150

Reviewed October 2016

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.

Audio clip: Andante maestoso, Allegro vivo from Symphony No. 5 in E minor

Also Nominated
Sibelius Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7

Sibelius

Sibelius Symphonies Nos 3, 6 and 7

Minnesota Orchestra/Osmo Vänskä
BIS BIS-2006 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed August 2016

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.

Audio clip: Excerpt from Symphony No. 7 in C major

Copland Orchestral works, Vol. 2

Copland

Copland Symphony for Organ and Orchestra; Orchestral Variations; Short Symphony; Symphonic Ode

BBC Philharmonic/John Wilson; Jonathan Scott (organ)
Chandos CHSA 5171 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed November 2016 

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.

Audio clip: Subito doppio movimento and Più mosso (molto ritmico) from Symphonic Ode

Matthias Goerne

Vocal Award

Vocal Award
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Winner
Mahler orch. Berio​​​​​​​ Early Lieder, Berio Sinfonia

Matthias Goerne

Mahler orch. Berio Early Lieder

Berio Sinfonia

Matthias Goerne (baritone); Synergy Vocals; BBC Symphony/Josep Pons
Harmonia Mundi HMC 902180

Reviewed Christmas 2016

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.

Audio clip: Mahler orch. Leander Erinnerung

Also Nominated
Satie Songs

Satie

Satie Trois mélodies; Trois autres mélodies; Hymne; Socrate

Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Reinbert de Leeuw (piano)
Winter & Winter 910 234-2

Reviewed August 2016

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.

Audio clip: 'Sylvie' from Trois mélodies

Abrahamsen​​​​​​​ Let me tell you

Abrahamsen

Abrahamsen let me tell you

Barbara Hannigan (soprano); Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Andris Nelsons
Winter & Winter 910 232-2

Reviewed May 2016

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. 

Audio clip: I will go out now

Zurich Opera

DVD Award

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Winner
Berg Wozzeck

Zurich Opera

Berg Wozzeck

Christian Gerhaher, Brandon Jovanovich, Mauro Peter, Wolfgang Ablinger-Sperrhacke, Lars Woldt, Gun-Brit Barkmin; Zürich Philharmonia, Zürich Opera Chorus/Fabio Liusi; dir. Andreas Homoki (Zurich, 2015)

Accentus ACC 20363 (DVD)

Berg’s Wozzeck is, quite simply, ‘the perfect opera’, says Christian Gerhaher. One of the most powerful works of the 20th-century, it’s a searing tale of individual powerlessness in a cruel society. Yet when the German baritone was approached by Zurich Opera to sing the title role, he wasn’t sure he was right for it. ‘Singers who normally do this role have bigger voices than I have,’ he says. ‘But then I decided that it’s a role that doesn’t match any voice perfectly. Some parts are so low that they should be sung by a bass-baritone, others so high that they should be sung by a tenoral baritone. I thought, if Zurich Opera really wants me then they know my abilities, and they will match their ambitions with them.’ The production was a triumph.

 

 

 

Beatrice Rana

Newcomer Award

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Winner
Beatrice Rana, Antonio Pappano – Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev

Beatrice Rana

Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2

Tchaikovsky  Piano Concerto No. 1

Beatrice Rana (piano); Orchestra dell’accademia nazionale di Santa Cecilia/Antonio Pappano

Warner Classics 2564600909

The coupling of the ebullient Tchaikovsky with dark Prokofiev was an admirably imaginative one. ‘Though the two concertos on the disc are very different, there are in fact also similarities when you listen to one after the other,’ says Rana. ‘The inspiration of Prokofiev’s Second Concerto is that of a composer in his early twenties – you can really hear the dramatic approach to life and death. He was the same age when he wrote it that I was when I recorded it, so I feel very close to it.’

Audio clip: Scherzo from Prokofiev Piano Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 16 

Julian Anderson

Premiere Award

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Winner
Julian Anderson/In lieblicher Bläue

Julian Anderson

Anderson In lieblicher Bläue, poem for violin and orchestra; Alleluia; The Stations of the Sun

Carolin Widmann (violin), London Philharmonic Choir, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski

LPO LPO 0089

A celebration of the long relationship between the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Julian Anderson, this disc includes two world premiere recordings of works he wrote for the ensemble during his tenure as composer-in-residence. ‘It’s a very responsive orchestra,’ says Anderson, ‘and they treat contemporary music just as they would any repertoire – which is exactly what a composer wants.’

Audio clip: Extract from In lieblicher Bläue