While the excitement of GRAMMY Week focused on the live telecast of the 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards, for classical music fans like me the Pre-Telecast Ceremony was the place to be. The list of nominated recordings is always an embarrassment of riches, and the experience of seeing the winners revealed was bittersweet, because every nominee was worthy.
Several recordings received multiple nominations, and two of these scored multiple wins. Best Classical Album and Best Choral Performance went to the Chicago Symphony Orchestra & Chorus' recording of Verdi: Requiem. Best Orchestral Performance went to Terrence Wilson and the Nashville Symphony for Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina. The composer of both works, Michael Daugherty, won Best Classical Contemporary Composition for Deus Ex Machina.
Opera has a reputation of being old and stuffy, so I loved seeing newer works nominated in the Best Opera Recording category. The winning work, Saariaho: L'Amour De Loin, was composer Kaija Saariaho's first opera.
Traditional repertoire was well represented, too, with Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (With Orchestra) going to Mitsuko Uchida for Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 23 & 24 with the Cleveland Orchestra. Cecilia Bartoli won Best Classical Vocal Performance for Sacrificium, her exploration of the 18th century castrato repertoire.
Fans of 20th century music rejoiced for two of the awards. Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (Without Orchestra) went to pianist Paul Jacobs for his recording of Messiaen: Livre Du Saint-Sacrement, and Best Chamber Music Performance went to the Parker Quartet for Ligeti: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2.
Best Small Ensemble Performance went to a fascinating and edifying multi-disc set, Dinastia Borja (the Borja Dynasty), by Hespèrion XXI and La Capella Reial De Catalunya. Subtitled Church And Power In The Renaissance, the set contains works by various composers spanning nearly five centuries of the history of the Borja family, whose history of corruption and criminality is perhaps somewhat counterbalanced by their generous patronage of the arts.
I'm already looking forward to finding out what kind of classical musical feast awaits when nominations for the 54th Annual GRAMMY Awards are announced. In a time when many arts organizations are struggling, it's encouraging to see how much excellent work is still being done in the Classical Field, and to see the artists receive such well-deserved recognition.