Once every so often, a recording will have an instant, profound effect. Listening to our Recording of the Year at the end of 2016, I had a strong feeling that it would be, at the very least, shortlisted for an award. And so it proved. The clarity of the sound, the passion of the musicianship, the arc of the symphonic narrative: Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 has rarely sounded so thrillingly alive, its triumphant ending so defiant. It’s a wonderful testament to the work that Vasily Petrenko and his Liverpool players have put into their orchestra since the Russian joined them almost exactly ten years ago.
The BBC Music Magazine Awards, now in their 12th year, shine a spotlight on a record industry that serves a vital role in giving us all access to new and established talent – performers and composers. Without recordings, vast swathes of music lovers in areas unserved by live music would have little or no knowledge of the exciting, innovative music projects and programmes that many ensembles and soloists transfer from the stage to the studio. And it’s thrilling that world-class recordings are now just as likely to emerge from small independent labels as they are from the majors, with the effect that most of the traditional major labels now adopt the creative mindsets and processes of their smaller competitors. The result is a recording industry that takes risks because it can – because there is less to lose. I do hope you not only enjoy our awards coverage this year, but that you relish the musical journey that each of our winners invites you to embark upon.
Whether you’re a hardened Mahlerian or just starting to dip your toes in the composer’s music (or somewhere in between!) our two-part celebration of his symphonies this issue (p22) is a fascinating and illuminating guide to their intricacies and often bafflingly wide influences. And so with your interest in these masterpieces renewed, you’ll no doubt want to seek out the finest recordings of each one. You need look no further than p24…
Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 5 has rarely sounded so thrillingly alive
Oliver Condy Editor