TIDAL Classical: Grammy Favorites
Every year the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences hands out their highly-coveted Gramophone Awards, a.k.a. the Grammys.
Held every year since 1959, it is the biggest night for the music industry, not to mention a highly memorable television event that is watched from around the world. Earning a Grammy is the most prestigious achievement in music. This year’s iteration is held on February 8th at L.A.’s Staples Center.
And although the classical awards don’t usually get the air-time they deserve, they just as much an honor for the recipients. Here at TIDAL Classical, we have the pleasure of highlighting four classical award categories, selecting our favorite album from each.
Producer of the Year
This year’s nominees for Producer of the Year (Classical) have each been responsible for between four and nine different recordings in the last year. Our pick in this category is Norwegian producer Morten Lindberg.
Lindberg specializes in producing eminent sound at special venues of classical music. He has a wide range Grammy nominations and is also founder of Lindberg Lyd and the record-label 2L.
Of Lindberg’s several productions, the album Remote Galaxy is surely one of our favorites. On it, the talented composer Flint Juventino Beppe – formerly known as Fred Jonny Berg – has asked himself the following question: Can the dualism of life – nature and art – be expressed purely in music? The album is a journey through time and space; a journey that makes sense because of the album’s music and philosophy. The music is uncompromisingly honest, with a genuine and personal nature.
The piece is performed by the Philharmonia Orchestra, various soloists and conducted by the Russian conductor and pianist, Vladimir Ashkenazy.
Best Orchestral Performance
Adams: City Noir – David Robertson, St. Louis Symphony
Dutilleux: Symphony No. 1 – Ludovic Morlot, Seattle Symphony
Dvořák: Symphony No. 8; Janáček: Symphonic Suite From Jenůfa – Manfred Honeck, Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Schumann: Symphonien 1-4 – Simon Rattle, Berliner Philharmoniker
Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 6 & 7; Tapiola – Robert Spano, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra
In this category we find some of the most famous classical orchestras and conductors of today, and among those is Manfred Honeck and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Of Antonin Dvořák’s nine symphonies, it is probably the Czech composer’s final three that have always been the most popular with the audiences. His 9th and last symphony, “From the New World,” is perhaps the best known.
At the same time, it is probably also these three that gets the most attention in general and on this album the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra under the baton of their chief-conductor, the Austrian, Manfred Honeck performs the 8th symphony.
On the album you can also hear Honeck’s very personal arrangement of Leos Janacek’s opera “Jenufa”. A 23-minute orchestral summary of this incredible but also evil-spirited opera. An incredibly beautiful album, both in interpretation and sound.
Best Choral Performance
Bach: Matthäus-Passion – René Jacobs, Akademie Für Alte Musik Berlin
Dyrud: Out Of Darkness – Vivianne Sydnes, Nidaros Cathedral Choir
Holst: First Choral Symphony; The Mystic Trumpeter – Andrew Davis, BBC Symphony Orchestra
Mozart: Requiem – John Butt, Dunedin Consort
The Sacred Spirit Of Russia, Craig Hella Johnson, Conspirare
Among the nominees in the fine category of choral performance, Torbjørn Dyrud stands out.
One Out of Darkness, Dyrud describes perhaps the most iconic story in Christianity, namely the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ – and in a way you’ve never heard it before.
The work looks at the story with new eyes and is not really a passion in the traditional sense, since it does not end with the death of Christ. It continues after the crucifixion and resurrection through Hades, and leaves us with the gospel of love that overcomes and endures all things; a gospel of grace and forgiveness.
Out of Darkness is performed by the Nidaros Cathedral Choir, narrator Sarah Head, percussionist Lars Sitter, trumpet players Geir Morten Øien and Erlend Aagaard Nilsen and conductor Vivianne Sydnes. The album, by the way, is released through producer Morten Lindberg’s (above) record label 2L.
Best Opera Recording
Charpentier: La Descente D’Orphée Aux Enfers – Paul O’Dette & Stephen Stubbs, Boston Early Music Festival Chamber Ensemble
Milhaud: L’Orestie D’Eschyle – Kenneth Kiesler, University Of Michigan ensembles
Rameau: Hippolyte Et Aricie – William Christie, Orchestra Of The Age Of Enlightenment
Schönberg: Moses Und Aron – Sylvain Cambreling, SWR Sinfonieorchester
Strauss: Elektra – Christian Thielemann, Staatskapelle Dresden
In the category of the best opera recording you find really fine titles and artists on the different albums.
Here, we deal again with a harrowing and gory opera, namely Richard Strauss’ ”Elektra.”
Based on the drama by Sofokles, and with lyrics written by librettist Hugo von Hofmannthals, the opera is only one act long, but is musically complex and insanely demanding on the vocalist. In particular the part of Elektra is notoriously respected by dramatic sopranos.
It is though a thoroughly wonderful opera and classic piece of musical drama. The plot is, as mentioned, based on the Greek tragedy, but in Hofmannthal and Strauss’ edition, they focus solely on the titular character, her meetings with the various characters in the opera and her mental and emotional development.
On this recording, played live at the Philharmonie in Berlin, we hear, among others: Evelyn Herlitzius, Waltraud Meier, Rene Pape, Anne Schwanewilms, Staatskapelle Dresden and Christian Thielemann.
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