The 36th Annual Grammy Awards : Classical : Dual Awards for Chicago Symphony
Nominated in two separate classical categories, the Chicago Symphony won both with performances of sometimes neglected works by Bela Bartok.
The celebrated Chicago ensemble won for best classical album with its performance of both “The Wooden Prince” and “Cantata Profana,” in conjunction with the Chicago Symphony Chorus. This recording also was named best orchestral performance.
The irony is that the already-much-Grammyed Chicago orchestra did this not under its former music director, Sir Georg Solti, nor its current Symphony Hall czar, Daniel Barenboim, but under the exigent French conductor, Pierre Boulez.
And, in the year in which she steps down as director of the Chicago Symphony Chorus, it seemed fitting that Margaret Hillis should be recognized with another Grammy for best performance of a choral work (“Cantata Profana”).
Recognition came also to veteran American pianist John Browning, who took a Grammy at age 60 for his complete solo piano works of the late Samuel Barber; and, posthumously, to American soprano Arleen Auger, who died in June, for “The Art of Arleen Auger,” made with pianist Joel Revzen.
For best opera recording, the voters passed over John Adams’ recent “Death of Klinghoffer,” and works by Britten, Prokofiev and Gluck, in favor of Handel’s 250-year-old “Semele,” conducted by John Nelson, with an American cast headed by Kathleen Battle, Marilyn Horne and Samuel Ramey.
German violinist Anne-Sophie Mutter, this season on maternity leave, won the category instrumental soloist with orchestra, playing two 20th-Century works, the Berg Concerto and Wolfgang Rihm’s “Time Chant,” with the Chicago Symphony, conducted by James Levine.
Beating out noble competition from his colleagues--William Bolcom, Donald Erb, Toru Takemitsu and Michael Tippett--American octogenarian Elliott Carter took the award for best contemporary composition for his violin concerto, as played by soloist Ole Bohn, with the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Oliver Knussen.