40 years of record label BIS

The independent classical label was founded 40 years ago this autumn – we take a look at some of their landmark releases


BIS records was founded 40 years ago this autumn. Its catalogue comprises music from the familiar – Bach, Mozart and Britten – to the more adventurous, such as Stenhammar, Takemitsu and Kalevi Aho.

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Unsurprisingly for a Swedish label, it has made Nordic music something of a speciality, spearheaded by the likes of Finnish conductor Osmo Vänskä and Swedish Clarinettist Martin Fröst. That's not to say, however, that it doesn't also look further afield - Japanese conductor Masaaki Suzuki and his Bach Collegium Japan, and German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann are among the label's successful recording artists.

The label's recordings feature regularly among the best reviewed discs in BBC Music Magazine and a number have been nominated for the prestigious BBC Music Magazine Awards – last year Trio Zimmermann's recording of the Beethoven String Trios won the Chamber Award (listen to a clip here).

‘When my old friend Bernard Coutaz of Harmonia Mundi died, I knew that BIS would be the oldest classical label left still led by its founder – me,' says the head of BIS, Robert van Bahr. 'It was an eerie feeling. I am happy, though, that we, all through the years, have been able to follow the same principles, which can be condensed into one word: choice. If we labels don't record unknown music and support budding geniuses, how is the world going to be able to love it, hate it or be indifferent about it/them?'

To mark the occasion we’ve picked out some of the very best recordings from their four decades in the business. And if we've missed any of your favourites, let us know in the comments below.

Click on the pictures to enlarge the gallery


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