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Grammy Time

The nominations for the classical Grammy Awards were released -- you know, the ones that matter so little that they are announced in the back alley before the stars even arrive at the ceremony. Classical Blogville followed quickly with congratulations and predictions (see Steve Smith especially). There were some surprising selections, but favorites to win seem immediately apparent in some categories.

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Neruda Songs
Sacred music did well, with nominations for the Cherubini Missa Solemnis and the Grechaninov disc we heard about from On an Overgrown Path. Renée Fleming's Homage may have an edge for being the most heard, although Peter Lieberson is almost certainly the favorite for his extraordinary Neruda Songs, recorded by his late wife, the incandescent Lorraine Hunt Lieberson. Perhaps another year for Joan Tower.

Grammy Nominees:
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Renée Fleming: Homage

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Shostakovich, The Golden Age

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Lully, Thésée

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Penderecki, Seven Gates of Jerusalem

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Sol Gabetta

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eighth blackbird, Strange Imaginary Animals

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Stile Antico, Music for Compline

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Anna Netrebko, Russian Album
Few may remember José Serebrier's colorful recording of Shostakovich's ballet music The Golden Age with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, but we do and quite fondly. Will Esa-Pekka Salonen get the nod for his Rite of Spring, in recognition of his accomplishments with the Los Angeles Philharmonic? The other nominees -- Slatkin and the Nashville Symphony (Tower's Made in America, again) and Robert Spano and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra (Vaughan Williams) -- are all good choices, especially the Vänskä and the Minnesota Orchestra with the latest in their Beethoven cycle, the Ninth.

Having been interested in Albéniz the opera composer for some time, the release of his Pepita Jiménez was welcome, especially with Plácido Domingo singing, but the work fell short to my ears. Giuseppe Filianoti and Simon Keenlyside were nice to hear in Dom Sébastien, Roi de Portugal. While the Mackerras English-language Hansel and Gretel and the Zubin Mehta-led La traviata are good choices, too, the Boston Early Music Festival's recording of Lully's Thésée is the one we wrote about.

Overlooked: Rudi Stephan's Die ersten Menschen, Handel's Floridante, Hans Krása's Brundibár, Vivaldi's Griselda, Gluck's Le Feste d'Apollo.

Thomas Quasthoff and Dorothea Röschmann are a great combination, with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in the Brahms German Requiem, but the Cherubini Missa Solemnis or the Grechaninov Passion Week has a far greater chance to win in this category. Again, few of the voters may remember as far back as the Halloween 2006 release of Penderecki's Symphony No. 7 'Seven Gates Of Jerusalem'. Outside chance at best for the Hänssler Classic Gurrelieder.

Overlooked: Philippe Herreweghe's Schütz Opus ultimum.

James Ehnes gets musicological kudos for his recording of the violin concertos of Barber, Korngold, and Walton; the same for Sabine Meyer and Emmanuel Pahud's pairing of Nielsen concertos. Hopefully, Lang Lang's Beethoven disc will not win just because people know his name (if Beethoven concertos, after all, why not Mikhail Pletnev?). My (positive) review of Anastasia Khitruk's recording, with the Russian Philharmonic, of Rózsa's violin concerto is forthcoming, but my favorite in this category is a charming recording, not so much for the Tchaikovsky as for the Saint-Saëns and Ginastera, by cellist Sol Gabetta.

Of all the Beethoven sonata releases this year, Garrick Ohlsson? Hyperion should get the nod for Marc-André Hamelin's Haydn sonatas. The other nominees -- Kenneth Boulton's Louisiana - A Pianist's Journey, Manuel Barrueco's Solo Piazzolla, and Allison Brewster Franzetti's selection of 20th-century piano sonatas -- don't do much for me.

Overlooked: Simone Dinnerstein's Goldberg Variations, Alexandre Tharaud's Tic Toc Choc.

If there is justice, this will be the year for eighth blackbird, whose release Strange Imaginary Animals was one of the high points of my listening this year (although, again, it was actually released in November 2006). The Ying Quartet's Tchaikovsky disc looks strong, too, as does Oleg Maisenberg and Sabine Meyer's CD of French music.

Overlooked: Janine Jansen's Bach inventions, Nikolaj Znaider and Yefim Bronfman's Brahms violin sonatas, the Jerusalem Quartet's Shostakovich, the Cuarteto Casals' Influencias.

Loved Stile Antico's stunning debut disc, Music for Compline, but it is hard to beat the Stravinsky and Prokofiev combination of Yuri Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists. Washington connections require us to mention the Smithsonian Chamber Players getting a nod for their Das Lied von der Erde, too.

Overlooked: the late Karlheinz Stockhausen's Stimmung, Academy of Ancient Music's Handel op. 3, Concerto Italiano's Book 8 of Monteverdi's Madrigals.

Dueling Russian Albums in this category: will Renée Fleming and Anna Netrebko have a cat fight on the red carpet? (I would pay to see that, yes.) Both are beautiful recital albums, but it is impossible to think of anyone but Lorraine Hunt Lieberson winning, again for Neruda Songs, which will likely have a sweep. We like Rolando Villazón, too, but enough with the zarzuela. If not LHL, then it should be the lovely Sarah Connolly for her Elgar Sea Pictures.

Overlooked: Mark Padmore's As Steals the Morn, Christian Gerhaher's Schubertiade, Angelika Kirchschlager's Handel arias, Simone Kermes's Vivaldi motets, Magdalena Kožená's Mozart arias.

Again, congratulations to Joan Tower (Made in America) and Jennifer Higdon (Zaka), but Peter Lieberson/LHL's Neruda Songs should win this category, too.

Overlooked: Stephen Hartke's The Greater Good.

What? Where is Sting?


Anonymous said...

Don't think Anna and Renée will be going fisticuffs anytime soon... considering Anna likes Renée enough to allow her back in her dressing room, once again, during next Saturday's R&J intermission.

Charles T. Downey said...

You don't perceive a slight tension in those "nice chats" at intermission? Oh well, no cat fight at the Grammy awards. Fine.