Winners announced for BBC Music Magazine Awards 2021

The Tallis Scholars lead this year's winning recordings, taking home both Recording of the Year and the Choral Award for the finale of their 34-year Josquin recording project

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The winners of the 16th annual BBC Music Magazine Awards have been announced, with The Tallis Scholars winning both Recording of the Year and the Choral Award. The vocal group’s recording of Josquin masses is the ninth and final album in its acclaimed Josquin series, the first of which was released 34 years ago in 1987. This winning recording completes what is the longest project of its kind in recorded music history. Peter Phillips has led The Tallis Scholars in each recording, with production by Steve Smith for Gimell Records – one of classical music’s longest-running creative collaborations.

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‘To bookend a big project – which has taken 34 years to complete – with two Recordings of the Year is as heartening as it gets,’ says Peter Phillips, founder and director of The Tallis Scholars. ‘In that time, like traditional artisans, we have honed our skills, making some of the greatest music ever written household experiences.’

BBC Music Magazine‘s editor Oliver Condy adds, ‘The Tallis Scholars’ Josquin series is a heroic achievement, this final instalment a thing of great beauty. And to award this prize in Josquin’s 500th anniversary year is extra special.’

The cover star of BBC Music Magazine‘s May issue – on sale tomorrow – is Egyptian soprano Fatma Said, who has won the Newcomer Award and the Vocal Award for her debut album El Nour on Warner Classics. This border-crossing recital programme of French, Spanish and Arabic works was described as ‘elegantly alluring’ by the BBC Music Magazine critics, taking listeners on a journey through the works of Ravel, Berlioz and Falla to lesser-known composers such as Obradors, Serrano and Gaubert.

This year’s BBC Music Magazine Personality of the Year is violinist Nicola Benedetti, who, since founding the Benedetti Foundation at the start of 2020 has gone on to support many young musicians with online courses and videos. During the pandemic, Benedetti’s Virtual Sessions delivered three weeks of online courses to players of all ages and standards, published over 300 videos, delivered 64 live Zoom sectionals to around 1900 musicians a week in 66 countries and gave 30 live sessions.

This year’s Orchestral Award goes to the Sinfonia of London and its conductor John Wilson for the second year in a row, after they won last year for their recording of works by Korngold, also released on the Chandos label. This year though, they have been awarded for their recording of Respighi’s Roman Trilogy: the Pines, Fountains and Festivals of Rome.

The Instrumental Award has been awarded to pianist Steven Osborne for his magnificent, nuanced performances of Prokofiev’s Piano Sonatas Nos 6, 7 and 8, while the Concerto Award goes to Antje Weithaas and cellist Maximilian Hornung for their performances of Schumann’s Violin Concerto and Brahms’s Double Concerto.

Violinist Tasmin Little, who was awarded the BBC Music Magazine Personality of the Year in 2020, has won this year’s Chamber Award with pianist Piers Lane. Their album ‘British Violin Sonatas Vol. 3’ was Little’s final recording for Chandos before her retirement, a fitting end to her glorious career.

The Opera Award goes to a performance of Malcolm Arnold’s rarely performed The Dancing Master, featuring a stellar cast of singers and the BBC Concert Orchestra, under the baton of John Andrews.

Alongside the publicly voted categories, the BBC Music Magazine jury has awarded two further Jury Awards. The Premiere Award goes to the magnificently performed album of Tavener works by cellist Steven Isserlis, No longer mourn for me. Isserlis is joined by the Philharmonia Orchestra and the Trinity Boys Choir on this recording for Hyperion. The DVD Award has been awarded to Keith Warner’s staging of Wagner’s Die Walküre from the Royal Opera House, with Antonio Pappano at the helm and a cast featuring Stuart Skelton, Emily Magee, Nina Stemma, John Lundgren and Sarah Connolly.

‘This past year has been impossibly hard for everyone,’ says BBC Music Magazine editor Oliver Condy, ‘so it’s wonderful to see the standard of recordings remain impressively high across the board.’

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Click here for the complete list of winners of the 2021 BBC Music Magazine Awards.