BBC Music Magazine announces nominees for its 2023 Awards
Our expert jury have sifted through a wealth of wonderful 2023 recordings - and come up with a shortlist of 27 brilliant discs across nine categories. The rest is up to you...
We're proud to announce the nominees for the 2023 BBC Music Magazine Awards, across nine categories from Chamber and Orchestral via Opera and Choral to Newcomer and Premiere.
And, as every year, the list drawn up by our expert jury is as eclectic as it is enticing. To take one category at random, the three nominees for our Chamber award reach right across the classical music spectrum. At one extreme, we have Brahms's two traditional but highly uplifting String Sextets, in wonderful performances from the Belcea Quartet, Tabea Zimmermann and Jean-Guihen Queyras: 'full-toned, warm-hearted and sensitive to the luscious and the sinuous alike,' as our reviewer Jessica Duchen observes.
Within the same category, but presenting a very different musical soundscape, is the debut album by South African cellist Abel Selaocoe. Where is Home (Hae ke Kae) rivetingly explores the African traditions and Western Baroque music that have shaped Selaocoe. The cellist and his fellow performers achieve a wonderful synthesis of these very different musical traditions. 'In Selaocoe’s hands the cello is a shape-shifter,' enthuses our reviewer Hellen Wallace, adding that, 'Everything flows from his own extraordinary voice, a soothing baritone that can plunge into unfathomable bass via Xhosa-style throat singing.'
There's plenty of variety, too, in the shortlist for our Orchestral Award. Here, the three nominated discs travel from the chilly expanses of northern Finland, as evoked in Sibelius's darkly thrilling tone poem Tapiola, to visions of Africa evoked by the mixed-race British composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The former featured on a gorgeous new Sibelius cycle from conductor Klaus Mäkelä and the Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra; the latter was part of a new disc of Coleridge-Taylor works by the brilliant Chineke!
Perhaps the pick of the works on this disc is Coleridge-Taylor's sublime Violin Concerto. Violinist Elena Urioste and the orchestra under Kevin John Edusei 'give a wonderful performance full of fiery spirit and delicacy', says our reviewer Jessica Duchen, who also notes that, with this disc, Chineke! have given us 'one of the biggest and best collections of Coleridge-Taylor's music yet released'.
This year's Choral category is another brilliant showcase for the sheer variety of wonderful music that comes across our desks here at BBC Music Magazine. The three nominees this year range from a hypnotic rendition of John Luther Adams's large-scale ensemble piece Sila: the Breath of the World, to a 'dramatically intense and luminously beautiful' recording of Handel's oratorio Theodora.
That one came from singers Lisette Oropesa, Joyce DiDonato, the Il Pomo d'Oro orchestra and choir and conductor Maxim Emelyanychev, and our reviewer Berta Joncus was hugely impressed. 'The choir chillingly realises the violence at the core of this oratorio: representing at one moment orgiastic heathens and at the next devout Christians, Il Pomo d’Oro sounds like two unrelated vocal ensembles: one harsh, percussive and guttural; the other smooth, euphonic and sublime. Such heartfelt readings by all the artists involved make this Theodora truly definitive.'
This year’s jury featured BBC Music Magazine editor Charlotte Smith and reviews editor Michael Beek, who were joined by critics Julian Haylock, Natasha Loges, Andrew McGregor and Sarah Urwin Jones. Together, our jury whittled down a huge longlist of this year's very best recordings to a final list of 27 nominees. That's three outstanding discs in each of the nine categories. We're also really pleased to be representing no fewer than 19 record labels, from Alpha Classics to Bedroom Community, on our 2023 Awards shortlist.
The winners are up to you, so just visit classical-music.com/awards and cast your votes. Voting closes at midnight on Tuesday 28 February, with the winners revealed at our Awards ceremony at King’s Place on Wednesday 19 April.
Vote now in this year’s BBC Music Magazine Awards at classical-music.com/awards.
The full list of 2023 BBC Music Magazine Awards nominees:
Where is Home
Works by JS Bach, Platti, Ka Bohaleng, Abel Selaocoe
Abel Selaocoe (cello, vocals) et al
Warner Classics 9029622432
Brahms: String Sextets
Tabea Zimmermann (violin), Jean-Guihen Queyras (cello); Belcea Quartet
Alpha Classics ALPHA792
Works by Bach, Scarlatti, Handel, Rameau, Rodgers, Corea et al
Martin Fröst (clarinet), Sébastien Dubé (bass), Roland Pöntinen (piano)
Sony Classical 19439917402
Sibelius: Symphonies; Tapiola; 3 Late Fragments
Oslo Symphony Orchestra/Klaus Mäkelä
Decca 485 2256
Coleridge-Taylor: Othello Suite; African Suite; Ballade etc
Chineke! Orchestra et al
Decca 485 3322
Bacewicz: Works for Chamber Orchestra, Vol. 3
Amadeus Chamber Orchestra of Polish Radio/Agnieszka Duczmal
DUX DUX 1828
Sibelius • Nielsen: Violin Concertos
Johan Dalene (violin); Royal Philharmonic Orchestra Stockholm/John Storgårds
A Night in London: Concertos and solo works by Handel, Geminiani, Oswald et al
Ophélie Gaillard (cello); Pulcinella Orchestra et al
Eclipse: Works by Dvořák, Ginastera, Saraste
Hilary Hahn (violin); Frankfurt Radio Symphony/Andrés Orozco-Estrada
Deutsche Grammophon 86 2383
Cage: Choral Works
Latvian Radio Choir/Sigvards Kļava
Ondine ODE 1402-2
Lisette Oropesa et al; Il Pomo d'Oro Choir; Il Pomo'd'Oro/Maxim Emelyanychev
John Luther Adams: Sila: the Breath of the World
The Crossing; Jack Quartet et al
Lampe: The Dragon of Wantley
Mary Bevan, Catherine Carby et al; The Brook Street Band/John Andrews
Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande
Julien Behr, Vannina Santoni et al; Les Siècles/François-Xavier Roth
Harmonia Mundi HMM905352.54
Jeanine Tesori & Tazewell Thompson: Blue
Kenneth Kellogg, Brianna Hunter et al; Washington National Opera/Roderick Cox
Pentatone PTC 5186 967
Mozart: Complete Piano Sonatas
Robert Levin (fortepiano)
ECM ECM 2710-16
Tutta sola: Works by Westhoff, Roman, JS Bach, Matteis, Tartini, Geminiani
Rachel Podger (violin)
Channel Classics CCSA44422
Bacewicz: Piano Works
Peter Jablonski (piano)
Handel: Enchantresses (Arias)
Sandrine Piau (soprano); Les Paladins/Jérôme Correas
Alpha Classics ALPHA765
Anna Prohaska (soprano), Isabelle Faust (violin)
Harmonia Mundi HMM902359
Battle Cry: Works by Purcell, Eccles, Strozzi, Monteverdi, Owain Park
Helen Charlston (mezzo), Toby Carr (theorbo)
Where is Home: Works by JS Bach, Platti, Ka Bohaleng, Abel Selaocoe
Abel Selaocoe (cello, vocals) et al
Warner Classics 9029622432
Between Two Worlds: Works by Adès, Beethoven, Dowland, Lassus
Castalian String Quartet
Æther: Works by Varèse, Poulenc, Delibes, Widmann et al
Sarah Aristidou (soprano)
Alpha Classics ALPHA781
Shades: Edmund Finnis: String Quartets Nos 1 & 2
Bedroom Community HVALUR42
Caprices: Works by Tom Coult, Oliver Leith, Freya Waley-Cohen, Laurence Osborne, Roxanna Panufnik, and Seonaid Aitken
Fenella Humphreys (violin)
Martinaitytė: Ex Tenebris Lux etc
Lithuanian Chamber Orchestra/Karolis Variakojis
Ondine ODE 1403-2
Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.