Gramophone's Label of the Year 2023

Rare is the month when, sitting down with colleagues to discuss the recordings in contention for being named Editor’s Choices, multiple albums from BIS aren’t prominent in the conversation. The roster of artists who contribute so beautifully, and so regularly, to the Swedish label’s treasurable catalogue is among the finest to be found. But what really stands out is just how personal each release feels – the exploratory choice of repertoire, the perfect partnerships between musicians. Listening to a BIS album feels like being a privileged witness to creativity at its most inspired and inspiring. Or, for that matter, like sitting in the best seat in the house, such is BIS’s commitment to the very highest possible quality of recorded sound (including surround sound).

And that seat might just as easily be in an intimate recital venue for exquisite Lieder, as front and centre of an expansive auditorium for a spell-binding symphonic performance. The diversity of BIS’s output is no better illustrated than simply looking at the records that made it onto the shortlist for this year’s Awards – the Gringolts Quartet performing Schoenberg Quartets, Pascal Rophé with an album of music by Ravel, Saint-Saëns piano concertos from Alexandre Kantorow, an all-Hungarian programme of solo violin music from Nurit Stark, and Beethoven and Mozart transcriptions performed by Paul Wee.

And behind all these albums (at around 2700, and counting …), behind the impeccable virtuosity and artistic commitment of the performers, is the guiding light of this much-loved label, Robert von Bahr. To those who have witnessed first-hand the youthful energy with which he conveys complete passion and pride for each and every one of his projects, it seems remarkable to be reminded that he founded the label an extraordinary 50 years ago.

So much defines BIS. There are its superb series, from the revelatory Sibelius cycle by Osmo Vänskä and the Lahti Symphony, to the Bach cantatas from Masaaki Suzuki and the Bach Collegium Japan, both of which exemplify BIS’s belief in a long-term commitment to projects and people. There is the dedication to nurturing the next generation of artists, indeed of spotting them before others, Gramophone Award-winning violinist Johan Dalene just one recent signing which speaks so eloquently of von Bahr’s A&R brilliance (who, incidentally, listens to every recording sent in by prospective artists). Or the commitment to providing a platform and permanence to such contemporary composers as Kalevi Aho.

And one final example of how BIS is an ever forward-looking label: just last month it announced that it has joined Apple Music Classical and the Apple-owned creative services company Platoon. In an age where streaming plays an ever-greater role, to have forged family links with one of the world’s most modern companies – not to mention one, through its advocacy of Spatial Audio, equally committed to high-end audio quality – is to have helped ensure that the creative spirit of our 2023 Label of the Year will be safeguarded well into the future. Martin Cullingford

Recording categories




Concept Album


Early Music



Orchestral & Recording of the Year



Spatial Audio

Voice & Ensemble

Special Awards

Lifetime Achievement

Label of the Year

Young Artist of the Year

Artist of the Year

Orchestra of the Year

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