Esa-Pekka Salonen among classical Grammy nominees


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Amid all of the Grammy hubbub this evening surrounding Beyonce, the Black Eyed Peas and other mega-stars, it’s easy to forget that classical music is an important part of the annual nominations, accounting for 13 categories and spanning the field from orchestral works to opera and beyond.

True, you won’t likely see any classical-music stars thanking their agents on Grammy night -- that’s because the classical categories are usually relegated to off-air time, heaped together with other presumably unpopular genres. All the more reason, then, for Culture Monster to give this year’s classical nominees their dues.


Esa-Pekka Salonen, the former music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, received a nomination in the category of best instrumental soloist performance with orchestra for the Deutsche Grammophon recording of his ‘Piano Concerto’ featuring pianist Yefim Bronfman. Salonen recorded the piece with the L.A. Philharmonic.

‘Piano Concerto’ had its West Coast premiere in May 2008 at Walt Disney Concert Hall, with Salonen conducting.

The Finnish conductor-composer won in this category last year for a recording of Violin Concertoes by Sibelius and Schoenberg. Salonen will be competing in the category this year against conductors Pierre Boulez, Gil Rose, Carlos Miguel Prieto and Vladimir Ashkenazy.

In the category of best classical album, the nominees are: Bernstein’s ‘Mass,’ performed by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marin Alsop; Mahler’s Symphony No. 8 and Adagio from Symphony No. 10, performed by the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas; Ravel’s ‘Daphnis et Chloe,’ performed by the Boston Symphony, conducted by James Levine; Ravel’s ‘L’enfant et Les Sortileges,’ performed by the Nashville Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Alastair Willis; and Shostakovich’s ‘The Nose,’ performed by the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre, conducted by Valery Gergiev.

In the opera field, the nominees for best opera recording are: Britten’s ‘Billy Budd,’ performed by the London Symphony Orchestra; Messiaen’s ‘Saint François D’Assise,’ performed by the Hague Philharmonic; Musto’s ‘Volpone,’ performed by the Wolf Trap Opera Company; Shostakovich’s ‘The Nose,’ performed by the Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre; and Tan Dun’s ‘Marco Polo,’ performed by the Netherlands Chamber Orchestra.

Last year’s winner in the category was LA Opera’s recording of Weill’s ‘The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahagonny.’


Among the big opera singers to receive nominations this year in the solo vocal performance category are Juan Diego Florez, Renee Fleming, Susan Graham, Anne Sofie von Otter and the late Lorraine Hunt Lieberson.

Florez is currently performing at LA Opera in ‘The Barber of Seville.’ Fleming is scheduled to perform a recital at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion later this month.

Classical composers get their own special Grammy category, awarded for a contemporary classical composition that was composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the eligibility period.

This year’s nominees are George Crumb for ‘The Winds of Destiny’; Jennifer Higdon for ‘Percussion Concerto’; Arvo Pärt for ‘In Principio’; Roberto Sierra for ‘Missa Latina ‘Pro Pace’’; and Yehudi Wyner for ‘Piano Concerto ‘Chiavi In Mano.’’

Sierra’s ‘Missa Latina’ had its West Coast premiere at Walt Disney Concert Hall in May, performed by the L.A. Master Chorale.

Click here for the complete list of nominees.


-- David Ng