Not at all the same old faces, conductors John Eliot Gardiner, Kent Nagano and Pierre Boulez took Grammys on Wednesday night in fields where their competition tended also to be Grammy first- or second-timers. Call these the postmodern Grammys.
As was the case when he won last year, Boulez had an advantage: His orchestra was the previously often-honored Chicago Symphony. This year, he and the Chicagoans won in both the best classical album and best orchestral performance categories, performing works by Bela Bartok.
In more or less offbeat repertory, Gardiner won for best choral performance, for Berlioz's "Messe Solennelle," and Nagano won for best opera recording, conducting Carlisle Floyd's once-ubiquitous, now-aging "Susannah," 40 years after its premiere.
Not surprisingly, the winner of best classical vocal performance (and the only solo vocal winner in the classical categories) was the 28-year-old Italian mezzo-soprano Cecilia Bartoli, for her recording of Italian songs called "The Impatient Lover." She beat out members of her own generation--Bryn Terfel, Anne Sofie von Otter and Dmitri Hvorostovsky--and the veteran, Peter Schreier.
There was also some predictability as pianist Emanuel Ax took the Grammy for best instrumental soloist performance (without orchestra), and in cellist Yo-Yo Ma's win in the instrumental soloist category, with orchestra.
Stephen Albert's Cello Concerto appeared on Ma's honored "New York Album"; additionally, composer Albert won best classical contemporary composition for the same piece and performance--Ma with conductor David Zinman and the Baltimore Symphony.