Awards - BBC Music Magazine Awards 2017: Shortlist
The nominations for this year's BBC Music Magazine Awards have just been announced this morning, with a potential long-list of over 200 five-star recordings from the past twelve months pared down to 21 finalists (three contenders spread over seven categories).
You can browse the short-list and listen to snippets of the discs below; to place your vote, visit the magazine's website here. The winners will be announced in a ceremony in London on 19th of April.| Share
Mahan Esfahani (harpsichord)
'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.'
Rolf Lislevand (baroque guitar and theorbo)
'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.'
Steven Osborne (piano)
'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.'
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 soundworlds.'
Escher String Quartet
'The New York-based Escher String 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 overexaggerated interpretative gestures.'
'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.'
Nicolas Altstaedt (cello), 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.'
Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano), Freiburger Barockorchester, 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.'
MusicAeterna, Teodor Currentzis
'A stunningly creative interpretation of a familiar concerto. 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.'
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.'
Minnesota Orchestra, Osmo Vänskä
'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.'
Jonathan Scott (organ), BBC Philharmonic, John Wilson
'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.'
'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.'
Edward Picton-Turbervill (organ), St John's College Choir Cambridge, Andrew Nethsingha
'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.'
Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir, 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.'
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.'
Barbara Hannigan (soprano), Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, 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.'
Matthias Goerne (baritone), The Synergy Vocals, BBC Symphony Orchestra, 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.'
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 Blažíková’s limpid soprano and Nuria Rial’s smokier tones.'
Angela Meade (Hélène d’Egmont), Michael Spyres (Henri de Bruges), Laurent Naouri (Le Duc d'Albe); Hallé & Opera Rara Chorus, 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.'
Dimitris Tiliakos (Don Giovanni), Vito Priante (Leporello), Myrtò Papatanasiu (Donna Anna), Kenneth Tarver (Don Ottavio), Karina Gauvin (Donna Elvira); 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.'
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