Bernard Haitink and the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra win Recording of the Year for their blistering performance of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3

The winners of the 13th annual BBC Music Magazine Awards, the only classical music awards in which the main categories are voted for by the public, were announced Thursday, 5 April at a ceremony at Kings Place, London. The legendary 89-year-old maestro Bernard Haitink has triumphed at this year’s ceremony, winning both the Orchestral category and Recording of the Year for his exceptional recording of Mahler’s Symphony No. 3 with the world-renowned Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra, on BR Klassik. From the immense opening movement through to a mesmerising account of the great finale, this sublime symphony has been beautifully captured live in concert in Munich. The disc topped the magazine’s public vote before a jury of experts gave it the accolade of best recording of 2017. Bernard Haitink says: ‘I’m extremely pleased with this award, of course, and I’m very pleased with BBC Music Magazine that they have chosen Mahler Three. I can only say that I love the work. It was a very happy four or five days that we rehearsed this, and [did] three performances. I know the orchestra so well. My first memory with them is maybe in the 1950s, but of course the orchestra has changed enormously, but there’s still the same wonderful mentality. They really love music.”

Oliver Condy, BBC Music Magazine editor, added: “At an age when most conductors have long hung up their batons, Bernard Haitink is making some of the finest music of his career. His recording of Mahler’s Third Symphony is a musical wonder – and testament to classical music’s universal appeal.”

For the very first time in the Awards history, a bassoonist has won the Concerto Award, beating discs of Mozart and works by the Bach family in an unexpected win. Bram van Sambeek, one of the few solo bassoonists in the world, is on dazzling form in contemporary works for this oft-neglected instrument.

A landmark recording of Berlioz’s Les Troyens has been awarded the Opera prize. This four-hour epic was recorded live in Strasbourg at concerts conducted by Berlioz specialist John Nelson. It features an all-star cast, with thrilling performances from Joyce DiDonato as Didon and from Michael Spyres, at the peak of his powers, as Enée.

Jamie Barton, 2013’s BBC Cardiff Singer of the World, has won this year’s Vocal Award with her debut recital album All Who Wander. Barton is wonderfully idiomatic in Dvorák and Sibelius, and she and pianist Brian Zeger give a performance of Mahler’s Rückert Lieder that is up there with the very greatest.

On the centenary of Debussy’s death, a disc of the French composer’s late instrumental sonatas and early piano trio has been won the Chamber Award. This gorgeous recording, masterminded by violinist Renaud Capuçon, features a clutch of the finest Francophone musicians, including flautist Emmanuel Pahud.

Ein Feste Burg Ist Unser Gott: Luther and the Music of the Reformation has won the Choral category. Marking the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Vox Luminis and director Lionel Meunier offer an illuminating exploration of Luther’s hymns and Gospel translations in settings by many of JS Bach’s German predecessors.

A ground-breaking crowd-funded project has scooped the Instrumental Award. Bach2 The Future, Vol. 2, played and masterminded by Fenella Humphreys, completes the violinist’s laudable project to commission six companion pieces to Bach’s Partitas. This second volume features music by Sally Beamish, Adrian Sutton and Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

The jury gave three Jury Awards. An exceptional recording of the late works of Elliott Carter has been awarded Premiere of the Year. The release features five premiere recordings, including the American composer’s final work Epigrams, written in 2012 when he was 103. Pianist Julien Brocal has been named Newcomer of the Year for his debut disc, of Chopin Preludes, also the first disc from the new record label Rubicon Classics. And finally, filmmaker Will Fraser’s brilliant and ambitious Maximum Reger, exploring the late-Romantic composer Max Reger, has won DVD of the Year. The ceremony was hosted by BBC Music Magazine Editor Oliver Condy and BBC Radio 4 broadcaster James Naughtie, and was attended by artists and representatives from across the classical music industry, as well as BBC Music Magazine readers. There were live performances by violinist Fenella Humphreys and pianists Bertrand Chamayou and Julien Brocal. Guest presenters included Harriet Harman MP, broadcaster Anneka Rice, comedian Vikki Stone, oboist Nicholas Daniel and BBC radio and TV presenter Suzy Klein.

The winners of the 2018 Awards will be announced in the May issue of BBC Music Magazine (on sale on 19 April) and on the magazine’s website at, and live on Twitter (#BBCMMAwards). Audio clips from all of the winning albums can be found on the site, along with links to online retailers. The winners represent the very best of more than 1,500 discs reviewed each year in BBC Music Magazine, the world’s best-selling classical music magazine. The winning albums can be heard in a special BBC Music Magazine curator playlist at Apple Music at


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