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Grammy Time

The Grammy Awards are in for classical music, announced as they are before the big ceremony and mostly ignored. One of the big winners was Michael Tilson Thomas's Mahler 7 with the San Francisco Symphony (Best Classical Album and Best Orchestral Performance). Of course, Jens reviewed this disc when it came out, but not so favorably:
With nuanced detail, well-structured, lovingly presented - quaver for quaver - this is easily the least satisfying Mahler 7th I have ever heard on record or live.

Typo? No.

For all its beauty, professionalism and excellence in execution, for every instance that is above criticism, the symphony as a whole is - to my ears - a complete failure.
Second, it was finally Osvaldo Golijov's turn this year, after Ayre lost out last year. A much stronger work, his opera Ainadamar, also won two Grammys this year, for Best Opera Recording and Best Classical Contemporary Composition. I heard the opera in Santa Fe and reviewed the recording:
However, Ainadamar has considerable appeal and will likely make a nice choice for sultry evening background sound (easy on the ears, by comparison with many other modern operas, certainly), beyond the growing market of those who have seen the opera staged. If nothing else, the price of the CD is justified by the opportunity to hear the final trio ("Venga, tome su mano" and "Doy mi sangre") as Margarita (Dawn Upshaw) is united in death with her beloved student Nuria (soprano Jessica Rivera) and the shade of Lorca (the unclassifiable Kelley O'Connor).
My threat in that post still stands: I am planning to teach Ainadamar in my Humanities class this year, combining it with a section on García Lorca's poetry, Silvestre Revueltas's Homenaje a García Lorca, and Crumb's Ancient Voices of Children.

Ionarts favorite Maurizio Pollini won Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra) for his set of Chopin nocturnes, which Jens reviewed recently: "I can’t say that the recording convinces me in its entirety, either. Not all the Nocturnes are such works that ask enough of Pollini; their surface-focused nature does not allow Pollini’s strength to shine."

Other Classical Grammy Winners:
  • Choral Performance: "Pärt: Da Pacem," Paul Hillier, conductor (Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir)
  • Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra): "Messiaen: Oiseaux Exotiques (Exotic Birds)," John McLaughlin Williams, conductor; Angelin Chang (Cleveland Chamber Symphony)
  • Chamber Music Performance: "Intimate Voices," Emerson String Quartet
  • Small Ensemble Performance: "Padilla: Sun of Justice," Peter Rutenberg, conductor (Los Angeles Chamber Singers' Cappella)
  • Classical Vocal Performance: "Rilke Songs," Lorraine Hunt Lieberson (Peter Serkin), track from Lieberson: Rilke Songs, The Six Realms, Horn Concerto
  • Classical Crossover Album: "Simple Gifts," Bryn Terfel (London Voices; London Symphony Orchestra)
  • Engineered Album, Classical: "Elgar: Enigma Variations; Britten: the Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra, Four Sea Interludes," Michael Bishop, engineer (Paavo Jarvi and Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra)
  • Producer of the Year, Classical: Elaine Martone


Anonymous said...

"Not all the Nocturnes are such works that ask enough of Pollini; their surface-focused nature does not allow Pollini’s strength to shine."

"Surface-focused nature?" Huh? Which ones are those? By "surface" do you mean the keyboard? Or are you suggesting that some of the Nocturnes are the equivlant of "Chopin-lite"?

Anonymous said...

"surface-focused" as in: the musical importance happens along horizontal, not vertical lines. The flow is important, not the depth... rhythmic profundity less necessary than momentum and a lush legato.