The GRAMMY Nominations: A Classical Music Feast!

The GRAMMY nominations are out, and boy, do I feel like a kid in a candy store!

The Classical Field boasts 66 nominations in its 13 categories — none of which I'd say "no" to as additions to my music collection.

Since it came out on Dec. 2, I've been poring over the list — and, yes, perhaps drooling a little in some cases (and not just over Leif Ove Andsnes).

I was immediately struck by the prominence of modern music in the field. Thirty-two of the nominated recordings feature music from the 20th century, and 22 of them contain works from the current decade — classical music goes 21st century, baby!

By the way, come on over sometime and see the spreadsheet I put together to help me get all this info organized! It's enough to overheat a music nerd's brain!

I was also thrilled by the recognition given to the opera world this year — yes, I'm an opera fan; I'm not ashamed to admit it! And I love the traditional repertory, but McDoc had to peel me off the ceiling after I saw that the Best Opera Recording category was completely dominated by modern works! The earliest piece on the list is Dmitri Shostakovich's The Nose, completed in 1928. The other four date from 1950 onward, and the most recent is John Musto's Volpone, still wet behind the ears from 2004!

But modern opera was not content merely to take over its own category; it spilled into several others as well. The Virgin Classics release of Benjamin Britten's Billy Budd(1951) received three nods, as did the Shostakovich opera. The ink is barely dry on David Carlson's Anna Karenina, premiered in 2007 and nominated in the Producer Of The Year category for Blanton Alspaugh's production work. And Alspaugh's nomination includes his work on Amahl And The Night Visitors(1951) by Gian Carlo Menotti and L'Enfant Et Les Sortilèges(1925) by Maurice Ravel. John Fraser, who produced the Billy Budd recording, was also recognized for his work on soprano Kate Royal's disc of 20th-century opera arias, Midsummer Night.

I'm a big fan of choral music too, and there are several fascinating selections among the nominations. Two works in particular stand out for the long journey they made from composer's imagination to CD case. John Corigliano wrote the first section of A Dylan Thomas Trilogy way back in 1959, and completed the work 40 years later; now it appears on Steven Epstein's Producer Of The Year list.

The Best Choral Performance category features a work, Song Of The Starsby Enrique Granados, that was nearly lost due to a series of unfortunate events, but was rescued and restored thanks to the efforts of dedicated musicians and scholars over several decades.

Well, I can't even begin to do justice to all of the Classical Field in one post — there's a wealth of orchestral, chamber, solo instrumental music, and more, waiting to be discussed. So keep watching this space, because I'll just have to work my way through it during the coming weeks.

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