The 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards Roundup: Classical Field
The GRAMMY Awards honor recordings in 108 categories across 32 fields, from rap to classical. To help readers get a better sense of the breadth of the nominees and the wealth of recordings they've created over the last year, GRAMMY.com has prepared these field Roundups, which give quick details on the nominees in an easy-to-read format.
It took composer William Bolcom more than 20 years to complete his Bolcom: Songs Of Innocence And Of Experience, a bold, expansive score that synthesizes classical music, jazz, folk, reggae and other styles into a sweeping career summary. The response, on the other hand, was immediate, which explains why a recording conducted by Leonard Slatkin, recipient of two previous GRAMMY Awards, earned a spot among the candidates for BEST CLASSICAL ALBUM. Other contenders for the award span a wide range of musical expression: Jeff Von Der Schmit, conductor of the Southwest Chamber Music, which picked up GRAMMY Awards for two previous entries in its series devoted to Mexican composer Carlos Chávez, earned another nomination with the Tambuco Percussion Ensemble on this year's installment, Chávez: Complete Chamber Music, Vol. 3. Fiery pianist and two-time GRAMMY Award winner Martha Argerich earned a nod for Martha Argerich And Friends: Live From The Lugano Festival, a spirited collection of music by Brahms, Schubert, Schumann and others. Six-time GRAMMY Award winners the Emerson String Quartet presented a comprehensive survey of quartets and other works by Romantic composer Felix Mendelssohn on Mendelssohn: The Complete String Quartets. And conductor Mariss Jansons led a searing rendition of Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's dark, powerful Symphony No. 13 on Shostakovich: Sym. No. 13.
Mariss Jansons' disc also earned a nomination in the BEST ORCHESTRAL PERFORMANCE category. Conductor Hugh Wolff attracted attention with a recording of long-neglected American composer George Antheil's spirited Sym. No. 3 "American," performed by the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra. Leading the Vienna Symphony Orchestra, Yakov Kreizberg captured the cathedral-like sonorities of Anton Bruckner's Sym. No. 7, while Leon Botstein, at the helm of the London Symphony Orchestra, unearthed a forgotten masterpiece in Russian composer Gavriil Popov's Symphony No. 1 with Popov: Sym. No. 1; Shostakovich: Theme & Variations. Completing the category, veteran conductor José Serebrier paid homage to his mentor, Leopold Stokowski, with Mussorgsky/Stokowski: Pictures At An Exhibition, a colorful collection of that legendary artist's Mussorgsky and Tchaikovsky arrangements performed by the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Nominees in the BEST OPERA RECORDING category span the gamut from an early-music discovery to a 20th-century classic. Leading the renowned Boston Early Music Festival Chorus and Orchestra, Paul O'Dette and Stephen Stubbs offered the world-premiere recording of Ariadne, a 17th-century opera by German composer Johann Georg Conradi. Another composer who once wrote about the Ariadne myth, Richard Strauss, is represented by his gentle, lyrical Daphne, recorded live by Semyon Bychkov and his West German Radio Symphony Orchestra. Benjamin Britten's final opera, the hallucinatory Death In Venice, was vividly captured by 1996 GRAMMY Award winner Richard Hickox and the City Of London Sinfonia. Fellow British conductor Sir Colin Davis, whose nine GRAMMY Awards include two for a 2001 opera recording with the London Symphony Orchestra, hopes to repeat that feat with a new take on Verdi's final opera, the genial comedy Falstaff. And Fabio Biondi assembled a crack team of Baroque vocalists to join his period-instruments ensemble, Europa Galante, in a lively performance of Vivaldi's Bajazet.
In addition to the Leonard Slatkin recording of Bolcom's Songs Of Innocence And Of Experience, the category of BEST CHORAL PERFORMANCE includes another quirky, polystylistic American masterpiece: Leonard Bernstein's Mass, performed by German and American choirs with the Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin under the direction of two-time GRAMMY Award-winner Kent Nagano. Krzysztof Penderecki's A Polish Requiem was ably championed by the composer's countrymen, conductor Antoni Wit and the Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir and Orchestra. Stephen Layton directed his chorus, Polyphony, in Lux Aeterna and other works by one of the most respected living composers of choral music, Morten Lauridsen. And the chamber chorus Accentus, led by Laurence Equilbey, made a compelling case for a diverse collection of vocal works by Arnold Schoenberg.
Schoenberg's music also makes an appearance on the list of nominees for BEST INSTRUMENTAL SOLOIST(S) PERFORMANCE (WITH ORCHESTRA), although unusually, his Concerto For String Quartet And Orchestra turns the spotlight on not one soloist, but four: the Fred Sherry String Quartet. Two contemporary American works featuring offbeat soloists also earned nods: English horn player Thomas Stacy was cited for a performance of Eventide by Kenneth Fuchs, while GRAMMY Award-winning percussionist Evelyn Glennie picked up a nomination for her rendition of Michael Daugherty's UFO. Although they played more traditional instruments, there was nothing conventional about the final two entries in this field, both past GRAMMY Award winners: Storied pianist Martha Argerich displayed her impetuous temperament in Beethoven: Piano Cons Nos. 2 & 3 while bold cellist and 2001 GRAMMY Award-winner Truls Mørk was featured in passionate works by Schumann and Bloch on Schumann: Cello Concerto; Bloch: Schelomo.
The field of BEST INSTRUMENTAL SOLOIST PERFORMANCE (WITHOUT ORCHESTRA) is dominated by a starry constellation of distinguished pianists. Veteran keyboardist Nelson Freire earned a nod for a gracious all-Chopin recital on Chopin: Études, Op. 10, Barcarolle, Op. 60, Son. No 2. Former child prodigy Evgeny Kissin proved his ever-deepening artistry in seldom-encountered Russian works on Scriabin, Medtner, Stravinsky. And Piotr Anderszewski proved a winning proponent of dark, dreamlike pieces by Polish composer Karol Szymanowski on Szymanowski: Piano Son. No. 3, Métopes, Masques. Among the remaining contenders, 2003 GRAMMY Award-winning violinist Maxim Vengerov served up a saucy collection of virtuoso showpieces by the likes of Paganini and Kreisler on Vengerov: Kreisler, Sarasate, Paganini, Wieniawski, while harpist Sarah Schuster Ericsson weighed in with a program of luminous pieces by French-born composer Carlos Salzedo on Night Breeze — Harp Music Of Carlos Salzedo.
The Best Classical Album nominations by the Emerson String Quartet (Mendelssohn: The Complete String Quartets) and Martha Argerich (Martha Argerich And Friends: Live From The Luguano Festival) reappear among the contenders for BEST CHAMBER MUSIC PERFORMANCE. Other recordings cited in this category include A La Carte — Short Works For Winds, a collection of short, sparkling gems by Percy Grainger, Amy Beach, Darius Milhaud and others as performed by The Borealis Wind Quintet; Bartók: The Six String Quartets, a survey of Bela Bartók's six challenging, substantial string quartets recorded by the Vermeer Quartet; and Borodin Quartet 60th Anniversary, a celebration by the venerable Borodin Quartet, featuring works by its namesake composer and others.
Another contender for Best Classical Album, Southwest Chamber Music led by conductor Jeff Von Der Schmidt, attempts a three-year sweep of the BEST SMALL ENSEMBLE PERFORMANCE (WITH OR WITHOUT CONDUCTOR) category with their Chávez: Complete Chamber Music, Vol. 3. Stiff competition is offered by 25-time GRAMMY Award-winner Pierre Boulez, who led his Ensemble Intercontemporain in performances of his own Le Marteau Sans Maître and other pieces, Dérive 1 & 2. Two discs of contemporary American music earned nods: Conductor David Colson led a mixed ensemble in George Crumb's mystical Ancient Voices Of Children, while David Hoose led Collage New Music in John Harbison's poetic Mottetti Di Montale. Completing the category is Nicholas White and his New York-based vocal group The Tiffany Consort with O Magnum Mysterium, a collection of Christmas choral works by Palestrina, Scarlatti, Poulenc and others.
An array of splendid vocalists make up the ballot for BEST CLASSICAL VOCAL PERFORMANCE. German bass-baritone Thomas Quasthoff earned a nod for a Bach: Cantatas, while celebrated soprano Carole Farley directed still more attention to the songs of American composer William Bolcom with Bolcom: Songs. The ardent Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón offered a stirring account of operatic arias by French composers Charles Gounod and Jules Massenet on Gounod — Massenet: Arias. Italian mezzo Cecilia Bartoli was typically probing in Opera Proibita, a program of fiery cantatas dating from a time in which opera was banned by the pope. And French soprano Natalie Dessay applied her silvery voice to opera arias and scenes by Richard Strauss on Strauss: Amor.
William Bolcom earns yet another nomination this year for his Songs Of Innocence And Of Experience, in the category of BEST CLASSICAL CONTEMPORARY COMPOSITION. Argentine-born composer Osvaldo Golijov is cited for Ayre, the exciting mix of Jewish and Arabic folk-music themes, klezmer and electronica he created for soprano Dawn Upshaw. Peter Boyer enlisted a starry cast of Hollywood actors in a recording of his patriotic Ellis Island: The Dream Of America. Another Argentine composer, 2001 Latin GRAMMY Award-winner Carlos Franzetti, picked up a nomination for his opera Corpus Evita. Veteran American composer Ned Rorem completes the ballot with a new recording of Nine Episodes For Four Players, performed by the Contrasts Quartet.
Finally, the category of BEST CLASSICAL CROSSOVER ALBUM demonstrated some of the many ways in which classical composers and performers intersected with jazz, Latin music and the silver screen. Imani Winds presented a scintillating vision of modern chamber music on their album The Classical Underground. The Turtle Island String Quartet & Ying Quartet, two ensembles well known in the jazz and classical worlds, respectively, meshed their genres on 4 + Four. Jazz saxophonist Paquito D'Rivera, proud recipient of three GRAMMY Awards and five Latin GRAMMY Awards, demonstrated his progressive classical chops on The Jazz Chamber Trio with the group of the same name. Acclaimed conductor Roberto Minczuk presented a sophisticated view of a legendary Brazilian songwriter with Symphonic Jobim. And William Stromberg tapped into the riches of Hollywood's golden age in his recording of Max Steiner's Academy Award-nominated score for the 1944 film, The Adventures Of Mark Twain.