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Classical Grammys, If You Care

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Verdi, Requiem

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So last night they handed out the Classical Grammys in the parking lot before the show. We have already made our pronouncements about the best recordings we heard this year, and we do not put much stock in the Grammys, but here are the results.

Best Classical Album:
Verdi, Requiem, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, R. Muti

Like many of the awards, name recognition probably played a factor. Of the nominated albums, I probably would have chosen Cecilia Bartoli's Sacrificium disc, with Il Giardino Armonico. Its selection of music is of greater import, the way I see things, than the umpteenth recording of Verdi's Requiem, although it is certainly good.

Best Orchestral Performance:
Daugherty, Metropolis Symphony, Nashville Symphony

I guess that I will have to dig out this CD, which did not strike me as worth notice, to listen to it again. The Metropolis Symphony is a bit on the fluffy side -- I vaguely recall that David Zinman championed it with the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra in the 1990s. My pick would have been the recording of Salieri's overtures and stage music with the Mannheimer Mozartorchester.

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Best Opera Recording:
Saariaho, L'Amour De Loin, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, K. Nagano

No complaints here (gorgeous opera, fine performance), although there were some worthy choices among the other nominees.

Best Choral Performance:
Verdi, Requiem, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, R. Muti

It's just that good, apparently; again, familiarity is important. Almost all the competition was stronger, and we have already singled out Daniel Reuss's recording of Frank Martin's Golgotha for high praise.

Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with Orchestra):
Mozart, Piano Concertos 23/24, Mitsuko Uchida, Cleveland Orchestra

I liked it, and it seemed the best of the nominees.

Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without Orchestra):
Messiaen, Livre Du Saint-Sacrement, Paul Jacobs

Hooray for Messiaen, but Freire, Hamelin, and especially Julia Fischer were better.

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Dinastia Borja

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V. Genaux

Best Chamber Music Performance:
Ligeti, String Quartets 1/2, Parker Quartet

Liked it, but not sure that it should have won over Isabelle Faust and Alexander Melnikov's Beethoven set.

Best Small Ensemble Performance:
Dinastia Borja, Jordi Savall, Hespèrion XXI

This was a great recording, although my half-written review got lost somewhere along the way. I'm happy for Savall and Co., although I liked their Nuevo Mundo recording better. The Tallis Scholars' recording of the Victoria Lamentations also got high marks from Ionarts. Best of all, Eric Whitacre's music was not recognized with a win.

Best Classical Vocal Performance:
Sacrificium, Cecilia Bartoli, Il Giardino Armonico

It's a good album, just not necessarily for the quality of the voice on display. For sheerly thrilling singing, give me Vivica Genaux's Vivaldi album any day.

Best Classical Contemporary Composition:
Daugherty, Deus Ex Machina

Nothing against Michael Daugherty's music, which is fine, but with names like Henze, Lindberg, Pärt, and Shchedrin on the list, this was the last name I expected to see win.


Matt said...

What do you have against Mr. Whitacre?

jfl said...

"Best of all, Eric Whitacre's music was not recognized with a win."


Ahh... one of the reasons I feel so at home here!

Charles T. Downey said...

Matt, Whitacre's music strikes me as gimmicky and saccharine. A few ninth chords and other extended harmony and people find it profound: the text setting is often clumsy, and the harmonic vocabulary is pretty limited. I'm just mystified by the popularity of his music.