Los Angeles’ increasing reputation as a capital for new classical music got further confirmation from the Grammy Awards on Friday night. Five recordings that involve the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Santa Monica new music series Jacaranda, the Piano Spheres pianist Gloria Cheng and the Ojai Festival received a total of seven nominations in five categories.
It is a particularly big year for the L.A. Phil’s conductor laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen. His recording of Witold Lutoslawski’s First Symphony with his former orchestra, released in a Salonen/L.A. Phil set of the late Polish composer’s four symphonies, will be up for best orchestra performance (his L.A. Phil recording of the Lutoslawski Third won a Grammy in 1986).
Meanwhile Salonen’s Violin Concerto, which was commissioned and premiered by the L.A. Phil (although recorded with the Finnish Radio Orchestra), has been nominated for best contemporary classical composition. The concerto’s soloist, Leila Josefowicz, is also nominated for her performance in the best classical instrumental solo.
Salonen’s concerto is up against yet another local commission: Maria Schneider’s “Winter Morning Walks,” commissioned by and premiered at the Ojai Festival.
And it has a further nomination for its soloist, four-time Grammy-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw, in the best classical vocal solo category.
Cheng, another previous Grammy winner, is, like Josefowicz, nominated for best classical instrumental solo. The pianist’s recording, “The Edge of Light,” features appropriately luminous solo performances of works by Messiaen and Kaija Saariaho. Los Angeles’ Calder Quartet makes an appearance as well in piano quintet pieces by both composers.
If these are all Grammy familiars, the outlier here is an ad-hoc group of four players who have made the first complete recording of John Cage’s “The Ten Thousand Things,” a collection of five different pieces played simultaneously following a performance at Jacaranda in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth last year.
As a novelty, the performance, which is stunning, is available in two forms. One is a standard CD. The other is a hi-def computer download that randomly mixes the work so that, in keeping with Cage’s interest in indeterminacy, you hear something different each time you play it.
And that means that the Grammy judges will each be voting on a different performance for the same recording. Cage, who died in 1992 and whose music thus far remains Grammy-free, would surely have found that a marvelous situation.
Here are highlights of the classical nominees:
Best orchestral performance
Atterberg: "Orchestral Works Vol. 1," Neeme Järvi, conductor (Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra) [Chandos]
Lutoslawski: Symphony No. 1, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Track from: "Lutoslawski: The Symphonies" [Sony Classical]
Schumann: Symphony No. 2; Overtures Manfred & Genoveva, Claudio Abbado, conductor (Orchestra Mozart) [Deutsche Grammophon]
Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4, Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra) [BIS Records]
Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps, Simon Rattle, conductor (Berliner Philharmoniker) [EMI Classics]
Best opera recording
Adès: "The Tempest," Thomas Adès, conductor; Simon Keenlyside, Isabel Leonard, Audrey Luna & Alan Oke; Luisa Bricetti & Victoria Warivonchick, producers (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; the Metropolitan Opera Chorus [Deutsche Grammophon]
Britten: "The Rape of Lucretia," Oliver Knussen, conductor; Ian Bostridge, Peter Coleman-Wright, Susan Gritton & Angelika Kirchschlager; John Fraser, producer (Aldeburgh Festival Ensemble) [Virgin Classics]
Kleiberg: "David & Bathsheba." Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Anna Einarsson & Johannes Weisser; Morten Lindberg, producer (Trondheim Symphony Orchestra; Trondheim Symphony Orchestra Vocal Ensemble) [2L (Lindberg Lyd)]
Vinci: "Artaserse," Diego Fasolis, conductor; Valer Barna-Sabadus, Daniel Behle, Max Emanuel Cencic, Franco Fagioli & Philippe Jaroussky; Ulrich Ruscher, producer (Concerto Köln; Coro Della Radiotelevisione Svizzera, Lugano) [Virgin Classics]
Wagner: "Der Ring Des Nibelungen," Christian Thielemann, conductor; Katarina Dalayman, Albert Dohmen, Stephen Gould, Eric Halfvarson & Linda Watson; Othmar Eichinger, producer (Orchester Der Wiener Staatsoper; Chor Der Wiener Staatsoper) [Deutsche Grammophon]
Best choral performance
Berlioz: "Grande Messe Des Morts," Colin Davis, conductor (Barry Banks; London Symphony Orchestra; London Philharmonic Choir & London Symphony Chorus) [LSO Live]
Palestrina: "Volume 3," Harry Christophers, conductor (The Sixteen) [Coro]
Parry: "Works For Chorus & Orchestra," Neeme Järvi, conductor; Adrian Partington, chorus master (Amanda Roocroft; BBC National Orchestra Of Wales; BBC National Chorus Of Wales) [Chandos]
Pärt: "Adam's Lament," Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor (Tui Hirv & Rainer Vilu; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Sinfonietta Riga & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Latvian Radio Choir & Vox Clamantis) [ECM New Series]
Whitbourn: "Annelies," James Jordan, conductor (Ariana Zukerman; the Lincoln Trio; Westminster Williamson Voices) [Naxos]
Best chamber music/small ensemble performance
Beethoven: Violin Sonatas, Leonidas Kavakos & Enrico Pace, [Decca]
Cage: "The 10,000 Things," Vicki Ray, William Winant, Aron Kallay & Tom Peters [MicroFest Records]
Duo, Hélène Grimaud & Sol Gabetta [Deutsche Grammophon]
Roomful of Teeth, Brad Wells & Roomful of Teeth, [New Amsterdam Records]
Times Go By Turns, New York Polyphony, [BIS Records]
Best classical instrumental solo
Bartók, Eötvös & Ligeti: Patricia Kopatchinskaja; Peter Eötvös, conductor (Ensemble Modern & Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) [Naïve]
Corigliano: Conjurer - Concerto For Percussionist & String Orchestra, Evelyn Glennie; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony), Track from: Corigliano: Conjurer; Vocalise [Naxos]
The Edge of Light: Gloria Cheng (Calder Quartet), [Harmonia Mundi]
Lindberg: Piano Concerto No. 2, Yefim Bronfman; Alan Gilbert, conductor (New York Philharmonic), Track from: Magnus Lindberg, [Dacapo Records]
Salonen: Violin Concerto; Nyx, Leila Josefowicz; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) [Deutsche Grammophon]
Schubert: Piano Sonatas D. 845 & D. 960, Maria João Pires, [Deutsche Grammophon]
Best classical vocal solo
"Drama Queens," Joyce DiDonato (Alan Curtis; Il Complesso Barocco)[Virgin Classics]
"Mission," Cecilia Bartoli (Diego Fasolis; Philippe Jaroussky; I Barocchisti) [Decca]
Schubert: "Winterreise," Christoph Prégardien (Michael Gees) [Challenge]
Wagner, Jonas Kaufmann (Donald Runnicles; Markus Brück; Chor Der Deutschen Oper Berlin; Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin) [Decca]
"Winter Morning Walks," Dawn Upshaw (Maria Schneider; Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough & Scott Robinson; Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) [ArtistShare]
Best contemporary classical composition
Lindberg, Magnus: Piano Concerto No. 2, Magnus Lindberg, composer (Yefim Bronfman, Alan Gilbert & New York Philharmonic). Track from: "Magnus Lindberg," [Dacapo Records]
Pärt, Arvo: "Adam's Lament," Arvo Pärt, composer (Tõnu Kaljuste, Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis & Sinfonietta Riga). Track from: "Arvo Pärt: Adam's Lament," [ECM New Series]
Salonen, Esa-Pekka: Violin Concerto, Esa-Pekka Salonen, composer (Leila Josefowicz, Esa-Pekka Salonen & Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra). Track from: "Out Of Nowhere," [Deutsche Grammophon]
Schneider, Maria: "Winter Morning Walks," Maria Schneider, composer (Dawn Upshaw, Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough, Scott Robinson & Australian Chamber Orchestra). Track from: Winter Morning Walks [ArtistShare]
Shaw, Caroline: Partita for 8 Voices, Caroline Shaw, composer (Brad Wells & Roomful of Teeth). Track from: "Roomful of Teeth" [New Amsterdam Records]
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