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 Awards, BBC Music Magazine Awards 2015: Shortlist

BBC Music Magazine Awards 2015: ShortlistThe nominations are just in for this year's BBC Music Magazine Awards, with a potential long-list of over 200 five-star recordings from the past twelve months now whittled down to 21 finalists (three contenders in seven categories). You can browse the short-list and listen to snippets of the discs below; to place your vote (and, if you're a UK customer, to be entered into the prize-draw) visit the magazine's website here. The winners will be announced in a ceremony in London on 7th of April.


'The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic has achieved extraordinary things under Vasily Petrenko’s leadership, with this Rachmaninov release highlighting their current quality of playing in music that shows the strengths of each orchestral department. The interpretations, too, are marvellous, the music driving constantly onwards in performances that offer consistently vivid and vital music-making.'

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Hakan Hardenberger, London Symphony Orchestra/Daniel Harding

'Speranza – hope, in four movements and four languages, a symphonic outburst of optimism for a bleak world. It’s one of Turnage’s most ambitious orchestral canvases, surging with life, passion and power, and it’s hard to conceive of this world premiere performance being bettered, especially in such a fine live recording.'

Available Formats: SACD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Lucerne Festival Orchestra/Claudio Abbado

'It’s hard to forget that the concert recorded here turned out to be Claudio Abbado’s last. Yet this is not simply a poignant memorial to the late conductor, but one of the finest Bruckner Nines on disc: the Lucerne Festival Orchestra and Abbado bring natural feeling, textural clarity and spiritual intensity to this unfinished masterpiece.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC


Leif Ove Andsnes, Mahler Chamber Orchestra

'In an age when the word ‘journey’ is horribly overused, Leif-Ove Andsnes reminds us what a true heart-and-mind musical journey really is. From its wonderfully expectant, half-improvisatory opening, the Fourth Concerto sounds as though it is being rediscovered, and each fresh discovery leads on to something equally new. Even the slighter Second Concerto surprises and delights.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC

Xenia Löffler, Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin/Georg Kallweit

'An invigorating programme of Venetian musical highways and byways that blows clean out of the water any hint of Baroque reserve as stunningly gifted oboist Xenia Löffler and Georg Kallweit’s Akademie für Alte Musik Berlin in overdrive bring the music of Vivaldi and his lesser-known contemporaries sparklingly to life.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Baibe Skride, Lauma Skride, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Vasily Petrenko

'Colourful, virtuosic, alert and intelligent: Baiba Skride brings all these virtues and more to Szymanowski. And while competition isn’t lacking, hers is surely now the go-to recording for these concertos. The Latvian violinist seems completely at home in the composer’s sensuous world, as do the sensitive Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra and Vasily Petrenko.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC


Roderick Williams, BBC Singers, The Nash Ensemble/Nicholas Kok

'Birtwistle is scaling new heights just now, and the elegiac Moth Requiem (2012) transports us to a sonic world of beguiling mystery. These singers have his music in their bones, presenting it with precision and sensitivity, be it the stark, monumental Carmen Paschale (1965) a glistening gem of a Lullaby or the dynamic Ring Dance of the Nazarene.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

The Choir of Westminster Cathedral/Martin Baker

'Four choral glories of the Renaissance (Ave verum corpus is also included) performed with a tantalising passionate restraint, fusing ear-tweaking textural detail with a special acuity for harmonic rhythm, spatial sensuality and an emotional imperative that engulfs the listener in a polyphonic web of alluring sound.'

Available Format: CD

Sarah Connolly, Stuart Skelton, David Soar, BBC SO & Chorus/Andrew Davis

'This Dream of Gerontius has all the right ingredients: a superlative trio of soloists, orchestral playing and choral singing of the highest calibre, an expert Elgarian at the helm, and excellent surround sound. It’s an overwhelming performance; Elgar’s comment that Gerontius ‘is the best of me’ has never seemed more apt.'

Available Formats: 2 SACDs, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC


'Zemlinsky is a nest of paradoxes: intense yet elusive, opulent but also sensitive and subtle, he can be difficult to grasp on first, or even second hearing. The Escher Quartet achieves a near-impossible balance, especially in the complex Second Quartet, clarifying its structure without betraying its fragile heart, while the Brahmsian First is a joyous surprise.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Alexander Melnikov, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras

'The Op. 70 No. 2 ‘trio without a name’ has too often lurked in the shadows: here the formidable Faust, Queyras and Melnikov on fortepiano make an indelibly convincing case for it, revealing a work of Apollonian grace and subversive wit. As for their Archduke, has it ever received a performance of such inspired subtlety?'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Alina Ibragimova, Steven Osborne

'Alina Ibragimova’s probing musical intelligence and Steven Osborne’s protean muscularity yield the dream team for a pair of war-time sonatas that couldn’t be more different. From the first Sonata’s confiding whispers to the exuberant panache of the Sonata No. 2’s Finale they take everything in their peerless stride. Revelatory.'

Available Format: CD


Benjamin Grosvenor

'Fears that this recital would feel diffuse and unfocused are banished by Grosvenor’s Bach, the brilliance of his Chopin and Scriabin, and the poetic delight of the Granados Waltzes. Morton Gould’s Boogie-Woogie encore wraps it up with a flourish; it’s only young Benjamin’s second solo recital, but boy do these fingers dance.'

Available Format: CD

Marc-André Hamelin

'Busoni was one of the great free-thinkers of twentieth century music, with a virtuoso’s understanding of the piano. As with Liszt, it’s easy to concentrate on the scintillating, barn-storming elements and miss the serious thinker. Marc-André Hamelin finds both the necessary swagger and the strange, almost recondite poetry – dazzling in parts, ultimately haunting.'

Available Format: 3 CDs

Mikhail Pletnev

'This is no standard recital from Mikhail Pletnev. The Russian pianist is caught here warming-up, as it were, playing pieces through and trying out the piano in preparation for recording sessions. The results are extraordinary, as Pletnev brings a highly personal approach to unofficial performances that are now released with his authorisation.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC


Xavier Sabata, Max Emanuel Cencic, John Mark Ainsley et al, Il Pomo d’oro/Riccardo Minasi

'Xavier Sabata’s Tamerlano is thrillingly ‘mad, bad and dangerous to know’ in this outstanding account of Handel’s 1724 slice of tyrannical life – recorded in its 1731 re-spray. Cast with unassailable strength (including John Mark Ainsley’s noble Bajazet) the set strikes musical gold in the viscerally engaged and engaging playing of Il Pomo d’Oro.'

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Gerald Finley, Marco Jentzsch et al, The Glyndebourne Chorus, London Philharmonic Orchestra/Vladimir Jurowski

'Perhaps the perfectly cast Meistersinger has yet to be recorded – the critics can never agree – but this has to come close, and Gerald Finley’s Hans Sachs is one of the most beautifully sung on any modern recording. Jurowski’s pacing allows Wagner’s score to flow, evading pomposity, in a deliciously detailed recording.'

Available Format: 4 CDs

Anders Dahlin, Sara Mingardo, Delphine Galou, Riccardo Novaro, Roberta Mameli et al, Accademia Bizantina/Ottavio Dantone

'There are simply no weak links in this classy ensemble, who deliver Vivaldi’s mischievous anti-heroic comedy with panache, from Anders Dahlin’s impeccable coloratura to Sara Mingardo’s frankly gorgeous contralto, whether twined with recorder or viola da gamba. Dantone paces the drama to crisp perfection, making this the most exciting recording to date.'

Available Formats: MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC


Julian Prégardien, Christopher Schnackertz

'A defining Beethoven An die ferne Geliebte, offset by the warm, ambient glow of lieder by Weber, Wolf and Richard Strauss, is floated exquisitely aloft by the seamless tenor radiance of Julian Prégardien and his outstanding pianist-partner Christoph Schnackertz, captured in exemplary five-channel surround-sound.'

Available Format: SACD

Joyce di Donato, Orchestre et Choeur de L’Opera de Lyon/Riccardo Minasi

'Joyce DiDonato’s love letter to Neapolitan ‘bel canto’ is all about the voice, and as her own ‘star’ shines brightly, what a voice it proves to be. Vocal pyrotechnics hold no terrors, and her creamy mezzo leaves no nuance unturned. Sensitively accompanied by Riccardo Minasi and his Lyon forces, it’s a case of ‘hear Naples.... and live!’.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC