BBC Music Magazine Awards Winners 2018

BBC Music Magazine Awards Winners 2018

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

Mahler

Recording of the Year

roty
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Winner
Mahler Symphony No. 3

Mahler

Mahler Symphony No. 3

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
BR Klassik 900149

Reviewed May 2017

Bernard Haitink’s first recording of Mahler's Third Symphony was half a century ago in Amsterdam. The view hasn’t changed too much – a measured survey of the immense opening movement through to a mesmerising account of the great final Adagio – but the playing of the Bavarian Radio Symphony is outstanding, and beautifully captured in concert.

Audio clip: Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck from Mahler Symphony No. 3

Also Nominated

Debussy

Chamber Award

Chamber Award
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Winner
Debussy Sonatas & Trio

Debussy

Debussy Cello Sonata; Violin Sonata; Sonata for Flute, Viola and Harp; Syrinx; Piano Trio

Renaud Capuçon (violin), Bertrand Chamayou (piano), Edgar Moreau (cello), Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Gerard Caussé (viola), Marie-Pierre Langlamet (harp)
Erato 9029577396

Reviewed Christmas 2017

This is luxury casting for Debussy, with a clutch of the finest Francophone musicians from across the generations coming together for the occasion. Their readings of the late sonatas are packed with glorious detail, while Renaud Capuçon, Bertrand Chamayou and Edgar Moreau make a great case for the early Piano Trio.

Audio clip: Finale. Appassionato from Piano Trio in G

Also Nominated
Ligeti: Les Siècles

Ligeti

Ligeti Six Bagatelles; Kammerkonzert; Dix pièces pour quintette à vent

Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth
Actes Sud ASM26

Reviewed March 2017

Ligeti’s brilliance, wit and quirky originality are at their most obvious in the wind quintet pieces, while the Chamber Concerto is a major work with a frenetic finale. Les Siècles play it all with exhilarating virtuosity, and utterly seductive wind timbres.

Audio clip: Corrente (Fließend) from Kammerkonzert

 

A Noble and Melancholy Instrument

A Noble and Melancholy Instrument

Music for horns and pianos of the 19th century

Alec Frank-Gemmill (horn), Alasdair Beatson (piano)
BIS BIS2228 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed July 2017

This beautifully thought-through disc has horn player Alec Frank-Gemmill and pianist Alasdair Beatson playing four different pianos and four different horns, all historically appropriate, in a programme ranging through Rossini, Glazunov, Dukas and more. Their warm, easy musicianship makes this edifying and effortlessly enjoyable.

Audio clip: Rondo from Beethoven's Horn Sonata in F

Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott

Choral Award

Choral Award
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Winner
Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott

Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott

Luther and the Music of the Reformation: works by Scheidt, Gesius, M Praetorius, Sieffert, Schein et al

Vox Luminis/Lionel Meunier; Bart Jacobs (organ)
Ricercar RIC153 (2 discs)

Reviewed July 2017

Music played an important part in Lutheran worship. Marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Vox Luminis and director Lionel Meunier offer an illuminating exploration of Luther’s hymns and Gospel translations in settings by many of JS Bach’s predecessors. All is warmly performed, and wonderfully presented in a generously illustrated book format.

Audio clip: Selig sind die Toten by Schütz

Also Nominated
Pärt choral works

Pärt

Pärt The Deer’s Cry; Von Angesicht zu Angesicht; Alleluia-Tropus; Virgencita; Vene creator; Drei Hirtenkinderaus Fitima; And one of the Pharisees; Da pacem Domine; Most Holy Mother of God; Sei gelobt, du Baum; Habitare fratres in unum; Summa; Gebet nach dem Kanon

Vox Clamantis/Jaan-Eik Tulve
ECM 4812449

Reviewed February 2017

From the incantatory style of The Deer’s Cry to the gently layered Veni Creator with its simple, quasi-medieval organ accompaniment, Pärt’s choral music requires precision and sensitivity, qualities that are in abundance in this stunningly recorded album. Hard to imagine this music better performed.

Audio clip: The Deer's Cry

Martinu Cantatas

Martinu

Martinů The Legend of the Smoke From Potato Tops; The Opening of the Springs; The Romance of the Dandelions; Mikeš of the Mountains

Soloists; Members of the Bennewitz Quartet; Prague Philharmonic Choir/Lukáš Vasilek
Supraphon SU41982

Reviewed March 2017

Every new Martinů release from Supraphon over the past few years has been treasurable, but this compendium offers the composer’s miraculous poetic cantatas inspired by folk wisdom and timely ecological parables. Unorthodox instrumental combinations and superb singing heighten the pleasures of this recording.

Audio clip: Romance of the Dandelions

Fagerlund & Aho

Concerto Award

Concerto Award
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Winner
Fagerlund & Aho bassoon works

Fagerlund & Aho

Fagerlund Bassoon Concerto, ‘Mana’; Woodlands
Aho Bassoon Concerto; Solo V

Bram Van Sambeek (bassoon); Lahti Symphony Orchestra/Dima Slobodeniouk and Okko Kamu
BIS BIS2206 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed February 2017

This collection of contemporary works for the oft-neglected bassoon is a revelation. Vital new pieces by Fagerlund and Aho highlight the fire and heart of the instrument, Bram van Sambeek delivers flawless performances, the Lahti Symphony are on fire, and the sound quality is top-notch.

Audio clip: Presto from Kalevi Aho's Bassoon Concerto

 

Also Nominated
Mozart Complete Violin Concertos

Mozart

Mozart Complete Violin Concertos; Rondos, K 269 & 373; Adagio, K261

Isabelle Faust (violin); Il Giardino Armonico/Giovanni Antonini
Harmonia Mundi HMC902230/31

Reviewed February 2017

Everything feels right about this recording. Isabelle Faust brings purity and playfulness to Mozart’s five violin concertos, youthful works with a freshness of spirit that comes across here with fluent ease. Andreas Staier’s cadenzas are an inspired choice.

Audio clip: Presto from Mozart's Violin Concerto No. 1

Dynastie: Concertos by JS, WF, CPE and JC Bach

Dynastie

Dynastie Concertos by JS, WF, CPE and JC Bach

Jean Rondeau (harpsichord); Sophie Gent, Louis Creac'h (violin), Fanny Paccoud (viola), Antoine Touche (cello), Thomas de Pierrefeu (contrabass) & Evolène Kiener (bassoon)
Erato 9029588846

Reviewed March 2017

Jean Rondeau is a firecracker harpsichordist – phrasing, rhythms, ornamentation delivered with panache and intelligence. JS Bach’s D minor Concerto has rarely sounded so urgent, while Rondeau delights in the impishness of JS’s son CPE’s own D minor Concerto. The orchestral playing is vibrant.

Audio clip: Prestissimo from JC Bach Harpsichord Concerto in F Minor, W. C73

Bach2 The Future

Instrumental Award

Instrumental Award
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Winner
Bach2 The Future

Bach2 The Future

Works by Sutton, Beamish, Davies, JS Bach, Ysaÿe, Stravinsky and Sibelius

Fenella Humphreys (violin)
Champs Hill Records CHRCD118

Reviewed January 2017

This gutsy and exhilarating disc completes violinist Fenella Humphreys’s laudable project to commission and record six companion pieces to Bach’s Partitas. Featuring splendid new compositions by Sally Beamish, Peter Maxwell Davies and Adrian Sutton alongside works by Bach, Ysaÿe, Stravinsky and Sibelius, the disc is performed with great precision and verve.

Audio clip: Ritorno from Sutton's Arpeggiare Variations

Also Nominated
Dreams and Fancies: English music for solo guitar

Dreams and Fancies

English music for solo guitar: works by Walton, L Berkeley, Dowland, Arnold and Britten

Sean Shibe (guitar)
Delphian DCD34193

Reviewed October 2017

Not just great guitar playing, but for two members of this year’s jury the best they had ever heard. At 25, Sean Shibe is that rare thing, a mature philosopher among musicians. He draws a rainbow of colours from his instrument, and Arnold’s Fantasy is a highlight in a balanced programme of English music.

Audio clip: Dowland Fantasia

Schubert Piano Sonatas

Schubert

Schubert Piano Sonatas D959 and D960

Krystian Zimerman (piano)
Deutsche Grammophon 479 7588

Reviewed Christmas 2017

The soundworld of this disc is immediately striking: Zimerman has added his own keyboard into a Steinway to create an instrument more akin to what Schubert might have known. But it’s not just the singing tone that sets these performances apart: Zimerman’s take on these two late sonatas is carefully thought through and deeply felt.

Audio clip: Scherzo from Piano Sonata in A, D959

Berlioz

Opera Award

Opera Award
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Winner
Berlioz Les Troyens

Berlioz

Berlioz Les Troyens

Joyce DiDonato, Marie-Nicole Lemieux, Michael Spyres et al; Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg, Badischer Staatsopernchor; Choeur de l’Opéra du Rhin/John Nelson
Erato 9029576220

Reviewed Christmas 2017

Erato’s much-anticipated recording of this four-hour epic, made live in Strasbourg at concerts conducted by Berlioz specialist John Nelson, did not disappoint. It captures thrilling performances from Joyce DiDonato as Didon and from Michael Spyres, at the peak of his powers, as Énée, and from a supporting cast of impressive strength.

Audio clip: 'Ha! ha! Après dix ans passés dans nos murailles'

Also Nominated
Carnevale 1729

Carnevale 1729

Works by Giacomelli, Orlandini, Albinoni, Porpora, Leo and Vinci

Ann Hallenberg (mezzo-soprano); Il Pomo d’Oro/Stefano Montanari
Pentatone PTC5186678 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed September 2017

A programme loosely based on the 18th-century Venetian carnival offers Ann Hallenberg a colourful window to dazzle us with her astounding virtuosity. Here is a glorious voice which never falters and whose intuitive ornamentation is a constant delight. Il Pomo d’Oro under Stefano Montanari’s direction provides vital support.

Audio clip: 'Non sempre invendicata' from Orlandini's Adelaide

Andriessen Theatre of the World

Andriessen

Andriessen Theatre of the World

Leigh Melrose, Lindsay Kesselman, Steven van Watermeulen, Maatijs van de Woerd, Cristina Zavalloni; Los Angeles Philharmonic/Reinbert de Leeuw
Nonesuch 7559793618

Reviewed Christmas 2017

Louis Andriessen calls it a grotesque in nine scenes, turning the life of 17th-century German polymath, Jesuit and scientist Athanasius Kircher into a Faustian journey of self-discovery. Using a mixture of languages, children’s songs, Baroque music, jazz and modernism, it’s a dizzying kaleidoscopic creation from a master of stagecraft.

Audio clip: Epilogue

Mahler

Orchestral Award

Orchestral Award
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Winner
Mahler Symphony No. 3

Mahler

Mahler Symphony No. 3

Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra/Bernard Haitink
BR Klassik 900149

Reviewed May 2017

Bernard Haitink’s first recording of Mahler's Third Symphony was half a century ago in Amsterdam. The view hasn’t changed too much – a measured survey of the immense opening movement through to a mesmerising account of the great final Adagio – but the playing of the Bavarian Radio Symphony is outstanding, and beautifully captured in concert.

Audio clip: Lustig im Tempo und keck im Ausdruck from Mahler Symphony No. 3

Also Nominated
Schmidt & Strauss

Schmidt & Strauss

Schmidt Symphony No. 2

Strauss Dreaming by the Fireside

Vienna Philharmonic/Semyon Bychkov
Sony Classical 88985355522

Reviewed July 2017

Semyon Bychkov pleads masterpiece status for a rarity. Schmidt’s late Romantic style needs the sheen of the Vienna Philharmonic, here captured in outstandingly natural and spacious sound – this is a winner on the engineering front, too. The jury was unanimous in welcoming this splendid risk from a major label.

Audio clip: Lebhaft from Schmidt's Symphony No. 2

Vaughan Williams Symphony No. 9

Vaughan Williams

Vaughan Williams

Symphony No. 9; Job

Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Andrew Davis
Chandos CHSA5180 (hybrid CD/SACD)

Reviewed April 2017

Vaughan Williams’s final symphony has the sinister bite of Shostakovich at his bleakest – a quality not lost on Davis and his Bergen ensemble who have a tight grip on the work’s waspish qualities with playing of eeriness and beauty. The Elizabethan-inspired Job is cloaked in luscious sound.

Audio clip: Scherzo from Symphony No. 9

All Who Wander

Vocal Award

Vocal Award
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Winner
All Who Wander

All Who Wander

Mahler: Rückert Lieder and other songs
Sibelius: Selected songs
Dvořák: Gypsy songs

Jamie Barton (mezzo-soprano), Brian Zeger (piano)
Delos DE3494

Reviewed May 2017

The long wait for Jamie Barton’s debut recital disc was worth every minute. Barton, double winner of 2013’s BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, is wonderfully idiomatic in Dvořák and Sibelius, and she and her pianist give a performance of Mahler’s Rückert Lieder that is up there with the greatest.

Audio clip: 'Var det en dröm' (Was it a dream) from Sibelius's 5 Songs, Op. 37 No. 4 and 'Liebst du um Schönheit' from Mahler's Rückert Lieder

Also Nominated
Blow

Blow

Blow An Ode on the Death of Henry Purcell; Begin the Song!; The Nymphs of the Wells; Dread Sir, the Prince of Light; Sonata in A; Ground in G minor; Chaconne in G

Samuel Boden, Thomas Walker (tenor); Arcangelo/Jonathan Cohen
Hyperion CDA 68149

Reviewed December 2017

Blow’s music deserves to be better known as these stylish performances demonstrate. High tenors rather than the usually heard countertenors sing the Ode on the Death of Henry Purcell while the remaining programme uncovers music which is seldom heard but is of sterling merit. 

Audio clip: 'Hark how the waken'd strings resound' from Blow's Begin the Song!

Haas: Fata Morgana

Haas

Haas Fata Morgana: songs by Pavel Haas

Anita Watson, Anna Starushkevych, Nicky Spence, James Platt, Navarra Quartet; Lada Valešová (piano)
Resonus RES10183

Reviewed May 2017

This captivating collection is everything a recording should be. The brain-child of pianist-musicologist Lada Valešová, the disc celebrates the delicately enthralling songs of 20th-century Czech composer Pavel Haas (including a premiere recording, of Fata Morgana), performed with beauty and care.

Audio clip: 'Dárek z lásky' (A Lover's Gift) from Sedm písní v lidovém tónu, Op. 18 (Seven Songs in Folk Style)

Maximum Reger

DVD Award

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Winner
Maximum Reger

Maximum Reger

Works plus documentary – Max Reger: The Last Giant

Frauke May (mezzo-soprano), Julius Berger (cello), Markus Becker, Rudolf Meister (piano), Graham Barber, Bernard Haas (organ) et al; Aris Quartett; WDR Funkhausorchester/Wayne Marshall

Reviewed August 2017

Max Reger is one of the most unjustly neglected composers in music history. That's the contention of producer Will Fraser, of Fugue State Films, whose mighty six-DVD set devoted to the German more than meets his ambition to correct that wrong.

In an era when fewer and fewer classical music documentaries are being made, Maximum Reger pulls out all the stops. Everything about the project is impressive, its scale and scope a suitable match for this gargantuan late-Romantic composer. 

Maximum Reger is, said our critic Erik Levi, 'a hugely rewarding achievement that should persuade us all to revisit our preconceptions of Max Reger's place in music history.'

Julien Brocal

Newcomer Award

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Winner
Julien Brocal

Julien Brocal

Chopin 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Piano Sonata No. 2, Op. 35 (Marche funèbre)

Julien Brocal (piano)
Rubicon RCD 1001

Reviewed March 2017

'This double debut – Julien Brocal's first CD and the launch of a new label devoted mainly to young artists – proves that even in a very crowded field there are new things to say,' writes our reviewer John Allison.

'Even more to the point is the fact that this young French pianist says them with complete naturalness, for there is nothing contrived or attention-seeking about his approach to such well-known repertoire.'

Audio clip: Allegretto in A-flat

Elliott Carter

Premiere Award

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Winner
Elliott Carter

Elliott Carter

Carter Interventions; Dialogues; Dialogues II; Soundings; Two Controversies and a Conversation; Instances; Epigrams

Pierre-Laurent Aimard (piano); Colin Currie (percussion), Isabelle Faust (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello); Birmingham Contemporary Music Group; BBC Symphony Orchestra/Oliver Knussen

Ondine ODE 1296-2

Reviewed October 2017

There couldn't be a better tribute to Elliott Carter than this recording, featuring five premieres and an all-star line-up of performers. It's a dazzling showcase of the American composer's late music. 

It would be hard to ask for better performances. Pianist Pierre-Laurent Aimard is fiery yet delicate, well matched by percussionist Colin Currie. There's virtuosity aplenty from the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Birmingham Contemporary Music Group under Oliver Knussen, and with the piano trio, Epigrams, Aimard, violinist Isabelle Faust and cellist Jean-Guihen Queyras sign off in impeccable style.

Audio clip: Dialogues II