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11.2.08

Those Awards No One Cares About

As pointed out by just about everyone else in the classical music world, the actual value of the classical Grammy Awards -- you know, the ones that matter so little that they are announced in the back alley before the stars even arrive at the ceremony -- is too little to make me care about them but too much for me not to cover them. So, the winners got their little announcement: how do the results stack up with my predictions?

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Neruda Songs
BEST CLASSICAL ALBUM
Congratulations to Joan Tower and Leonard Slatkin, but who are we kidding? Lorraine Hunt Lieberson's recording of her husband's Neruda Songs should have won.

BEST ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE
Leonard Slatkin and Joan Tower also won this category, robbing José Serebrier.

BEST OPERA RECORDING
The Mackerras English-language Hansel and Gretel beat out my pick, Boston Early Music Festival's recording of Lully's Thésée. Congratulations to Jennifer Larmore!

BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE
Thomas Quasthoff and Dorothea Röschmann are a great combination, with Simon Rattle and the Berlin Philharmonic in the Brahms German Requiem, and they beat out the Cherubini and Grechaninov discs.

BEST INSTRUMENTAL SOLOIST (WITH ORCHESTRA)
James Ehnes gets musicological kudos for his recording of the violin concertos of Barber, Korngold, and Walton, and a Grammy! Tough luck for the charming Sol Gabetta.

BEST INSTRUMENTAL SOLOIST (WITHOUT ORCHESTRA)
Of all the Beethoven sonata releases this year, Garrick Ohlsson?

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BEST CHAMBER MUSIC PERFORMANCE
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).
Apparently, there is justice. To my great amusement, eighth blackbird decided not to attend the ceremony. Bwah!

BEST SMALL ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE
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.
And Bashmet and the Moscow Soloists get the nod.

BEST CLASSICAL VOCAL PERFORMANCE
It is impossible to think of anyone but Lorraine Hunt Lieberson winning, again for Neruda Songs, which will likely have a sweep.
Well, not a sweep, but at least LHL won this category.

BEST CLASSICAL CONTEMPORARY COMPOSITION
Joan Tower's Made in America gets the Grammy sweep, instead of Team Lieberson? What is wrong with this picture?

BEST CLASSICAL CROSSOVER ALBUM
Still think that Sting should have been nominated for this, but Turtle Island String Quartet's Coltrane album is worthy.

See also my list of overlooked recordings from last year, listed by Grammy category.

6 comments:

Mark said...

If these artists were only in rehab!! Multiple Grammies...

jfl said...

No, no, no! (They wouldn't go...)

Anonymous said...

Give some credit to the Academy for continuing to have so many classical music categories, far above the genre's share of the marketplace!

Charles T. Downey said...

Fair enough, Anonymous. Your focus on the profit margin of a genre of music is symptomatic, however, of the attitudes that lower one's general esteem for the Grammy Awards.

jfl said...

I assume anonymous meant 'proportional to the audience of other music', not profit margin.

I think the compromise should be to cut the awards for classical music by 50% ("Best Associate Producer for Choral Work with Harmonica" really doesn't need to be its own category, does it?) but in turn lift them back into the main program. (Certain) culture has meaning and importance for a society beyond the share of those who enjoy/purchase it... and classical music might well be among those 'exemplary arts' and it needs to be presented thus.

We flaunt our intellectual and scientific achievements (Nobel prices et al.) based on quality, too, not just popularity. No reason why the Grammies can't do a little bit of that in the realm of culture where popularity is only one (albeit essential) aspect of 'importance'.

Charles T. Downey said...

Perhaps I leap to conclusions to assume that "share of the marketplace" is at least a little related to commercial concerns.

Agreed about halving the categories, but let's go even further and say that the cut should be applied to all genres. Far fewer awards across the board would make each award of greater value, and an all-inclusive ceremony would have allowed Joan Tower to share the stage with Amy Winehouse. At least virtually.