GRAMMY Classical Delights

(For a complete list of 53rd GRAMMY Awards nominees, click here.)

The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards are coming up on Feb. 13, and I'm thrilled to be serving as GRAMMY.com's community blogger for classical music again this year. Los Angeles, here I come, again!

Last year, I noted that reading through the list of Classical Field GRAMMY nominees made me feel like a kid in a candy store, and this year's list certainly brought that feeling right back to me. Nearly 50 recordings are nominated across 12 categories and if you include everything listed under the Producer Of The Year, Classical category, the number of recordings doubles — it's enough to make a music nerd's head spin!

But as excited as I am, I know of a couple of people who must be even more over the moon. Six-time GRAMMY winner David Frost racked up a Classical Field-leading four nominations, including Producer Of The Year, Classical, an award he won in both 2004 and 2008. He also received a nod for Best Surround Sound Album for Britten's Orchestra.

Composer Michael Daugherty received a nomination for Best Classical Contemporary Composition for "Deus Ex Machina," and his works garnered an additional four nominations, including Best Classical Album for Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina. Steven Mackey received two nominations for Dreamhouse — a work that combines orchestra with electric guitars and amplified voices — for Best Engineered Album, Classical, and Best Classical Album. The album also garnered a nod in the Best Orchestral Performance category. By the way, I have to cheer my home team, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project, who performed on the album.

Porter, Quincy: Complete Viola Works is up for Best Engineered Album, Classical, and also received a nod by way of violist Eliesha Nelson in the Best Chamber Music Performance (with John McLaughlin Williams) and Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (With Orchestra) categories. I'm happy to see the viola in the spotlight, as it is a gorgeous instrument so often consigned to supporting roles.

A few more recordings spawned two nominations each: Verdi: Requiem, performed by the Chicago Symphony Orchestra and Chorus; Bruckner Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 by the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra; and Sacrificium, an exploration of castrati music by mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli.

I'm looking forward to sampling some of the rest of the nominated recordings in the coming month, but for now I'll highlight a few that caught my eye immediately.

As a fan of living composers, last year I was delighted to see that the Best Opera Recording category was dominated by works from the 20th and 21st centuries. This year the nominees cover a broader range, from the baroque period to the most recent turn of the century. My favorite recording is Saariaho: L'Amour De Loin. I'd say a GRAMMY nod is a satisfactory result for one's first opera, wouldn't you? The other nominees are Berg: Lulu, Hasse: Marc' Antonio E Cleopatra, Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer, and Sullivan: Ivanhoe.

The Best Chamber Music Performance category features some crunchy string quartets you can really sink your teeth into. I'm a big fan of Hungarian composer György Ligeti, so I'm glad to see the Parker Quartet's recording of Ligeti: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 nominated (I especially love the second). And then there's the Fred Sherry String Quartet's recording of Schoenberg: String Quartets Nos. 3 & 4 by Arnold Schoenberg, who revolutionized classical music in the early 20th century, for better or worse, depending on who you ask. The category is rounded out by Beethoven: Complete Sonatas For Violin & Piano, Gnattali: Solo & Chamber Works For Guitar and the aforementioned Porter, Quincy: Complete Viola Works.

I had the pleasure of seeing soprano Measha Brueggergosman perform live back when I lived in Detroit, and hung around for a question-and-answer session after the performance. She's a fantastic performer and an engaging speaker, so I'm happy to see her get a nod for Best Classical Vocal Performance for her recording of Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder. The other nominees in this category are Ombre De Mon Amant — French Baroque Arias (Anne Sofie Von Otter), Sacrificium (Bartoli), Turina: Canto A Sevilla (Lucia Duchonová), and Vivaldi: Opera Arias — Pyrotechnics (Brueggergosman).

So there you have it: just a little taste of this year's GRAMMY classical delights. I'm looking forward to digging in repeatedly between now and GRAMMY Sunday, and I hope you'll follow along on my musical journey!
 

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