The Well-Tempered Ear

Classical music: Here are the new 56th annual Grammy Award nominees for Classical Music as a guide for holiday gifts.

December 14, 2013

By Jacob Stockinger

As I usually offer readers for the holiday season, here is the list of the 56th annual Grammy nominations for classical music. It can serve as a good guide for giving holiday gifts, and readers have said they like it and find it both interesting and useful.

grammy award BIG

Don’t forget: The list of categories has been pared back from what it used to be – a sign of the transcendence of other forms of music.

After all, these are industry awards.

Some of the latest trends seem to continue to hold up. The nominations reflect several things: a fostering of lesser known groups and labels; more new and contemporary music; a couple of superstars thrown in.

I am somewhat surprised that certain recording are not in the running, especially pianist Jeremy Denk’s CD and DVD set of Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Goldberg” Variations and violinist Hilary Hahn’s CD of the 27 encores she herself commissioned and performed.

jeremy denk bach golbergs cd

Hilary Hahn Encores CD cover

Well, we all have our own preferences. And maybe they were released too late. O r maybe they are too mainstream, whatever that means these days.

So what does the Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences think of this year’s classical crop?

The Ear’s sentimental favorite is “Winter Morning Walks” (below) since all of the main parties involved — American poet Ted Kooser, American soprano Dawn Upshaw and American composer Maria Schneider – are cancer survivors, and their album speaks quietly but eloquently of their ordeals. They do what too much music doesn’t do any longer in an irony-drenched, postmodern age: Speak directly to the heart. “Winter Morning Walks” is Franz Schubert’s “Winterreise” updated for our time. (You can hear samples in a YouTube video at the bottom.)

winter morning walks

Here is a link to the general Grammy Awards home page.

They make it hard to find, despite the gimmicky hype of a countdown clock, but the Grammy Awards will be given out live on Sunday, January 26,2014, at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and broadcast on CBS starting at 7 p.m. CST.

And here is a list to the complete list of classical nominees in all categories:


Hymn To The Virgin, Morten Lindberg, engineer (Tone Bianca Sparre Dahl & Schola Cantorum) Label: 2L (Lindberg Lyd)

La Voie Triomphale, Morten Lindberg, engineer (Ole Kristian Ruud & Staff Band Of The Norwegian Armed Forces) Label: 2L (Lindberg Lyd)

Roomful Of Teeth, Mark Donahue & Jesse Lewis, engineers (Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth) Label: New Amsterdam Records

Vinci: Artaserse, Hans-Martin Renz, Wolfgang Rixius & Ulrich Ruscher, engineers (Diego Fasolis, Philippe Jaroussky, Max Emanuel Cencic, Daniel Behle, Franco Fagioli, Valer Barna-Sabadus, Yuriy Mynenko & Concerto Köln) Label: Virgin Classics

Winter Morning Walks, David Frost, Brian Losch & Tim Martyn, engineers; Tim Martyn, mastering engineer (Dawn Upshaw, Maria Schneider, Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) Label: ArtistShare


Manfred Eicher • Beethoven: Diabelli-Variationen (András Schiff) • Canto Oscuro (Anna Gourari) • Pärt: Adam’s Lament (Tõnu Kaljuste, Latvian Radio Choir, Vox Clamantis, Sinfonietta Riga, Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra) • Tabakova: String Paths (Maxim Rysanov)

David Frost • Andres: Home Stretch (Timo Andres, Andrew Cyr & Metropolis Ensemble) • Angel Heart, A Music Storybook (Matt Haimovitz & Uccello) • Beethoven: Piano Sonatas, Vol. 2 (Jonathan Biss) • Ben-Haim: Chamber Works (ARC Ensemble) • Celebrating The American Spirit (Judith Clurman & Essential Voices USA) • Elgar: Enigma Variations; Vaughan Williams: The Wasps; Greensleeves (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony) • Guilty Pleasures (Renée Fleming, Sebastian Lang-Lessing & Philharmonia Orchestra) • Verdi: Otello (Riccardo Muti, Aleksandrs Antonenko, Krassimira Stoyanova, Carlo Guelfi, Chicago Symphony Chorus & Chicago Symphony Orchestra) • Winter Morning Walks (Dawn Upshaw, Maria Schneider, Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra)

Marina A. Ledin, Victor Ledin • Bizet: Symphony In C; Jeux D’Enfants; Variations Chromatiques (Martin West & San Francisco Ballet Orchestra) • Traveling Sonata – European Music For Flute & Guitar (Viviana Guzmán & Jérémy Jouve) • Voyages (Conrad Tao) • Zia (Del Sol String Quartet)

James Mallinson • Berlioz: Grande Messe Des Morts (Colin Davis, London Symphony Chorus, London Philharmonic Choir & London Symphony Orchestra) • Bloch: Symphony In C-Sharp Minor & Poems Of The Sea (Dalia Atlas & London Symphony Orchestra) • Fauré: Requiem; Bach: Partita, Chorales & Ciaccona (Nigel Short, Tenebrae & London Symphony Orchestra Chamber Ensemble) • Nielsen: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 3 (Colin Davis & London Symphony Orchestra) • Wagner: Das Rheingold (Valery Gergiev, René Pape, Stephan Rügamer, Nikolai Putilin & Mariinsky Orchestra) • Wagner: Die Walküre (Valery Gergiev, Anja Kampe, Jonas Kaufmann, René Pape, Nina Stemme & Mariinsky Orchestra) • Weber: Der Freischütz (Colin Davis, Christine Brewer, Sally Matthews, Simon O’Neill, London Symphony Chorus & London Symphony Orchestra)

Jay David Saks (below) • Adams: Nixon In China (John Adams, Russell Braun, Ginger Costa-Jackson, James Maddalena, Janis Kelly, Richard Paul Fink, Robert Brubaker, Kathleen Kim, The Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) • Adès: The Tempest (Thomas Adès, Audrey Luna, Isabel Leonard, Alan Oke, Simon Keenlyside, Metropolitan Opera Chorus & Orchestra) • The Enchanted Island (William Christie, Joyce DiDonato, David Daniels, Danielle De Niese, Luca Pisaroni, Lisette Oropesa, Plácido Domingo, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus) • Handel: Rodelinda (Harry Bicket, Renée Fleming, Andreas Scholl, Joseph Kaiser, Stephanie Blythe, Iestyn Davies, Shenyang & The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) • Live At Carnegie Hall (James Levine, Evgeny Kissin & The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra) • Verdi: Rigoletto (Michele Mariotti, Željko Lu_i_, Diana Damrau, Piotr Beczala, Oksana Volkova, Štefan Kocán, The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra & Chorus)

Jay David Saks


Atterberg: Orchestral Works Vol. 1, Neeme Järvi, conductor (Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra) Label: Chandos

Lutosławski: Symphony No. 1, Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Los Angeles Philharmonic), Track from: Lutoslawski: The Symphonies, Label: Sony Classical

Schumann: Symphony No. 2; Overtures Manfred & Genoveva, Claudio Abbado, conductor (Orchestra Mozart), Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 1 & 4, Osmo Vänskä, conductor (Minnesota Orchestra) Label: BIS Records

Stravinsky: Le Sacre Du Printemps, Simon Rattle, conductor (Berliner Philharmoniker) Label: EMI Classics

simon rattle stravinsky rite


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) Label: 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) Label: Virgin Classics

Kleiberg: David & Bathsheba, Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor; Anna Einarsson & Johannes Weisser; Morten Lindberg, producer (Trondheim Symphony Orchestra; Trondheim Symphony Orchestra Vocal Ensemble) Label: 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) Label: Virgin Classics

Wagner: Der Ring Des Nibelungen, Christian Thielemann, conductor (below); Katarina Dalayman, Albert Dohmen, Stephen Gould, Eric Halfvarson & Linda Watson; Othmar Eichinger, producer (Orchester Der Wiener Staatsoper; Chor Der Wiener Staatsoper) Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Christian Thielemann Wagner Ring CD


Berlioz: Grande Messe Des Morts, Colin Davis, conductor (Barry Banks; London Symphony Orchestra; London Philharmonic Choir & London Symphony Chorus) Label: LSO Live

Palestrina: Volume 3, Harry Christophers, conductor (The Sixteen) Label: 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) Label: Chandos

Pärt (below): Adam’s Lament, Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor (Tui Hirv & Rainer Vilu; Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir; Sinfonietta Riga & Tallinn Chamber Orchestra; Latvian Radio Choir & Vox Clamantis) Label: ECM New Series

Whitbourn: Annelies, James Jordan, conductor (Ariana Zukerman; The Lincoln Trio; Westminster Williamson Voices) Label: Naxos

Composer Arvo Pärt


Beethoven: Violin Sonatas, Leonidas Kavakos & Enrico Pace Label: Decca

Cage: The 10,000 Things, Vicki Ray, William Winant, Aron Kallay & Tom Peters, Label: MicroFest Records

Duo, Hélène Grimaud & Sol Gabetta, Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Roomful Of Teeth, Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth, Label: New Amsterdam Records

Times Go By Turns, New York Polyphony, Label: BIS Records

leonidas kavakos beethoven sonatas


Bartók, Eötvös & Ligeti, Patricia Kopatchinskaja; Peter Eötvös, conductor (Ensemble Modern & Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra) Label: Naïve

Corigliano: Conjurer – Concerto For Percussionist & String Orchestra, Evelyn Glennie; David Alan Miller, conductor (Albany Symphony) Track from: Corigliano: Conjurer; Vocalise Label: Naxos

The Edge Of Light, Gloria Cheng (Calder Quartet) Label: Harmonia Mundi

Lindberg: Piano Concerto No. 2, Yefim Bronfman (below, in a photo by Dario Acosta); Alan Gilbert, conductor (New York Philharmonic) Track from: Magnus Lindberg, Label: Dacapo Records

Salonen: Violin Concerto; Nyx, Leila Josefowicz; Esa-Pekka Salonen, conductor (Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Schubert: Piano Sonatas D. 845 & D. 960, Maria João Pires Label: Deutsche Grammophon

Yefim Bronfman by Dario Acosta


Drama Queens, Joyce DiDonato (Alan Curtis; Il Complesso Barocco) Label: Virgin Classics

Mission, Cecilia Bartoli (Diego Fasolis; Philippe Jaroussky; I Barocchisti) Label: Decca

Schubert: Winterreise, Christoph Prégardien (Michael Gees), Label: Challenge

Wagner, Jonas Kaufmann (Donald Runnicles; Markus Brück; Chor Der Deutschen Oper Berlin; Orchester Der Deutschen Oper Berlin) Label: Decca

Winter Morning Walks, Dawn Upshaw (Maria Schneider; Jay Anderson, Frank Kimbrough & Scott Robinson; Australian Chamber Orchestra & St. Paul Chamber Orchestra) Label: ArtistShare

Kaufmann Wagner CD


Hindemith: Violinkonzert; Symphonic Metamorphosis; Konzertmusik, Christoph Eschenbach, conductor Label: Ondine

Holmboe: Concertos, Dima Slobodeniouk, conductor; Preben Iwan, producer Label: Dacapo Records

Tabakova: String Paths, Maxim Rysanov; Manfred Eicher, producer Label: ECM New Series


Lindberg, Magnus: Piano Concerto No. 2, Magnus Lindberg, composer, (Yefim Bronfman, Alan Gilbert & New York Philharmonic) Track from: Magnus Lindberg Label: 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 Label: ECM New Series

Salonen, Esa-Pekka: Violin Concerto, Esa-Pekka Salonen, composer and conductor, below (Leila Josefowicz, Esa-Pekka Salonen & Finnish Radio Symphony Orchestra) Track from: Out Of Nowhere Label: 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 Label: ArtistShare

Shaw, Caroline: Partita For 8 Voices, Caroline Shaw, composer (Brad Wells & Roomful Of Teeth) Track from: Roomful Of Teeth Label: New Amsterdam Records

Esa Pekka Salonen

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