Vote now in the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

Vote now in the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017

Welcome to the BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017 voting site.

Here you’ll find the 21 recordings chosen by our jury of critics from last year’s five-star discs.

Now it's time to listen to them and choose your favourites – by voting, you’ll be entered into a prize draw to win one of two sets of each of the 21 nominees. Voting closes on 24 February, so get voting!

The winning recordings will be announced at a ceremony at London’s Kings Place on Wednesday 19 April. We'd love you to join us. Click here to find out how you can. 

  1. Step 1: Select a category to vote in
  2. Step 2: Listen to the audio clips from the nominated discs
  3. Step 3: Vote for your favourite
  4. Step 4: Repeat in as many categories as you like
  5. Step 5: Confirm your votes! You will be entered into our prize draw
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 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

Martinu's complete piano trios


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

Steinberg Passion Week


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

Harvey Choral works


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 

Janáček Glagolitic Mass


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

CPE Bach Cello Concertos

CPE Bach

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

Mozart Piano Concertos


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

JS Bach Goldberg Variations

JS Bach

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

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'

C​​​​​​​avalli L’amore innamorato


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 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

Mozart Don Giovanni


Mozart Don Giovanni

Dimitris Tiliakos, Vito Priante, Myrtò Papatanasiu, Kenneth Tarver, Karina Gauvin, Guido Loconsolo, Christina Gansch; 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'

Tchaikovsky Symphonies Nos 1, 2 and 5


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

Sibelius Symphonies Nos 3, 6 & 7


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 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

Satie Songs


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 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

Mahler orch. Berio​​​​​​​ Early Lieder, Berio Sinfonia

Mahler & Berio

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


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