The Well-Tempered Ear

Check out the 2022 classical music Grammys for trends and suggested listening

April 9, 2022
4 Comments

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By Jacob Stockinger

No doubt you have already heard about the 64th annual Grammy Awards, which were awarded last Sunday night.

But chances are you haven’t heard much about the classical music Grammys.

That’s just not where the money and publicity are for major record companies and for the music industry in general, compared to other, much more profitable genres such as hip-hop, rock and pop.

But the classical Grammy nominations and winners can be a good source about what composers, performers and music you might want to check out via streaming or by buying a CD.

You can also get a good idea of trends in classical music.

Contemporary or new music is big again this year, dominating the old standard classics.

Just like local, regional, national and international performers, both individuals and groups, the Grammys show an emphasis on female composers and performers, and a similar emphasis on rediscovering composers and performers of color from both the past and the present.

You might also notice that the New Orleans-born, Juilliard-trained jazz pianist and singer Jon Batiste (below) — who plays on CBS’ The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and directs the house band Stay Human and who seems a one-man Mardi Gras — was nominated for a record 11 Grammys and won five in other categories, seems to be the new Wynton Marsalis. Like Marsalis, with whom Batiste worked, Batiste seems perfectly at home in classical music as well as jazz, soul, blues and pop. And his original classical work Movement 11 was nominated for a Grammy this year.

Social activism, in short, has finally brought diversity and inclusion into the Grammys in a way that seems permanent.

Below are the nominations and winners of the 2022 classical music Grammys. Winners are boldfaced. I have also offered a few examples of those musicians who have performed in Madison and for what venue, although there are many more connections than indicated.

If you want to see the nominations and winners in other categories, here is a link:

https://www.npr.org/2022/04/03/1090342877/2022-grammys-full-list-winners-nominees

75. Best Engineered Album, Classical

  • Archetypes — Jonathan Lackey, Bill Maylone and Dan Nichols, engineers; Bill Maylone, mastering engineer (Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad and Third Coast Percussion)
  • Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears — Richard King, engineer (Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax) 
  • Beethoven: Symphony No. 9 — Mark Donahue, engineer; Mark Donahue, mastering engineer (Manfred Honeck, Mendelssohn Choir Of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
  • Chanticleer Sings Christmas — Leslie Ann Jones, engineer (Chanticleer)
  • Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony Of A Thousand’ — Alexander Lipay and Dmitriy Lipay, engineers; Alexander Lipay and Dmitriy Lipay, mastering engineers (Gustavo Dudamel, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz, Luke McEndarfer, Robert Istad, Grant Gershon, Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus, Pacific Chorale and Los Angeles Philharmonic)

76. Producer Of The Year, Classical

  • Blanton Alspaugh 
  • Steven Epstein 
  • David Frost 
  • Elaine Martone 
  • Judith Sherman (below, who also recorded the UW-Madison Pro Arte Quartet’s centennial commissions)

CLASSICAL

77. Best Orchestral Performance

  • “Adams: My Father Knew Charles Ives; Harmonielehre” — Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor (Nashville Symphony Orchestra)
  • “Beethoven: Symphony No. 9” — Manfred Honeck, conductor (Mendelssohn Choir Of Pittsburgh and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra)
  • “Muhly: Throughline” — Nico Muhly, conductor (San Francisco Symphony)
  • “Florence Price: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 3″ — Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Philadelphia Orchestra (below)
  • “Strauss: Also Sprach Zarathustra; Scriabin: The Poem Of Ecstasy” — Thomas Dausgaard, conductor (Seattle Symphony Orchestra)

78. Best Opera Recording

  • “Bartók: Bluebeard’s Castle” — Susanna Mälkki, conductor; Mika Kares and Szilvia Vörös; Robert Suff, producer (Helsinki Philharmonic Orchestra)
  • “Glass: Akhnaten” — Karen Kamensek, conductor; J’Nai Bridges, Anthony Roth Costanzo, Zachary James and Dísella Lárusdóttir; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus) 
  • “Janáček: Cunning Little Vixen” — Simon Rattle, conductor; Sophia Burgos, Lucy Crowe, Gerald Finley, Peter Hoare, Anna Lapkovskaja, Paulina Malefane, Jan Martinik & Hanno Müller-Brachmann; Andrew Cornall, producer (London Symphony Orchestra; London Symphony Chorus and LSO Discovery Voices)  
  • “Little: Soldier Songs” — Corrado Rovaris, conductor; Johnathan McCullough; James Darrah and John Toia, producers (The Opera Philadelphia Orchestra) 
  • “Poulenc: Dialogues Des Carmélites” — Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Karen Cargill, Isabel Leonard, Karita Mattila, Erin Morley and Adrianne Pieczonka; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus) 

79. Best Choral Performance

  • “It’s A Long Way” — Matthew Guard, conductor (Jonas Budris, Carrie Cheron, Fiona Gillespie, Nathan Hodgson, Helen Karloski, Enrico Lagasca, Megan Roth, Alissa Ruth Suver and Dana Whiteside; Skylark Vocal Ensemble) 
  • “Mahler: Symphony No. 8, ‘Symphony Of A Thousand'” — Gustavo Dudamel, conductor; Grant Gershon, Robert Istad, Fernando Malvar-Ruiz and Luke McEndarfer, chorus masters (Leah Crocetto, Mihoko Fujimura, Ryan McKinny, Erin Morley, Tamara Mumford, Simon O’Neill, Morris Robinson and Tamara Wilson; Los Angeles Philharmonic; Los Angeles Children’s Chorus, Los Angeles Master Chorale, National Children’s Chorus and Pacific Chorale)
  • “Rising w/The Crossing” — Donald Nally, conductor (International Contemporary Ensemble and Quicksilver; The Crossing)  
  • “Schnittke: Choir Concerto; Three Sacred Hymns; Pärt: Seven Magnificat-Antiphons” — Kaspars Putniņš, conductor; Heli Jürgenson, chorus master (Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir)  
  • “Sheehan: Liturgy Of Saint John Chrysostom” — Benedict Sheehan, conductor (Michael Hawes, Timothy Parsons and Jason Thoms; The Saint Tikhon Choir)
  • “The Singing Guitar” — Craig Hella Johnson, conductor (Estelí Gomez; Austin Guitar Quartet, Douglas Harvey, Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and Texas Guitar Quartet; Conspirare)

80. Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

  • “Adams, John Luther: Lines Made By Walking” — JACK Quartet
  • “Akiho: Seven Pillars” — Sandbox Percussion 
  • “Archetypes” —Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad and Third Coast Percussion 
  • “Beethoven: Cello Sonatas – Hope Amid Tears” — Yo-Yo Ma and Emanuel Ax (who have frequently performed individually and together at the Wisconsin Union Theater)
  • “Bruits” — Imani Winds
  •  

81. Best Classical Instrumental Solo

  • “Alone Together” — Jennifer Koh (below, who has performed with the Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra)
  • “An American Mosaic” — Simone Dinnerstein
  • “Bach: Solo Violin Sonatas and Partitas” — Augustin Hadelich (a favorite of the Madison Symphony Orchestra)
  • “Beethoven and Brahms: Violin Concertos” — Gil Shaham; Eric Jacobsen, conductor (The Knights)
  • “Mak Bach” — Mak Grgić
  • “Of Power” — Curtis Stewart 

82. Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

  • Confessions — Laura Strickling; Joy Schreier, pianist
  • Dreams Of A New Day – Songs By Black Composers — Will Liverman (who has sung with the Madison Opera); Paul Sánchez, pianist (below at in the YouTube video at the bottom)
  • Mythologies — Sangeeta Kaur and Hila Plitmann (Virginie D’Avezac De Castera, Lili Haydn, Wouter Kellerman, Nadeem Majdalany, Eru Matsumoto and Emilio D. Miler)
  • Schubert: Winterreise — Joyce DiDonato; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, pianist
  • Unexpected Shadows — Jamie Barton; Jake Heggie, pianist (Matt Haimovitz) 

83. Best Classical Compendium

  • American Originals – A New World, A New Canon — AGAVE and Reginald L. Mobley; Geoffrey Silver, producer
  • Berg: Violin Concerto; Seven Early Songs and Three Pieces For Orchestra — Michael Tilson Thomas, conductor; Jack Vad, producer
  • Cerrone: The Arching Path — Timo Andres and Ian Rosenbaum; Mike Tierney, producer
  • Plays — Chick Corea; Chick Corea and Birnie Kirsh, producers
  • Women Warriors – The Voices Of Change — Amy Andersson, conductor; Amy Andersson, Mark Mattson and Lolita Ritmanis, producers  (below)

84. Best Contemporary Classical Composition

  • “Akiho: Seven Pillars” — Andy Akiho, composer (Sandbox Percussion)
  • “Andriessen: The Only One” — Louis Andriessen, composer (Esa-Pekka Salonen, Nora Fischer and Los Angeles Philharmonic)
  • “Assad, Clarice and Sérgio, Connors, Dillon, Martin & Skidmore: Archetypes” — Clarice Assad, Sérgio Assad, Sean Connors, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and David Skidmore, composers (Sérgio Assad, Clarice Assad and Third Coast Percussion)
  • “Batiste: Movement 11′” — Jon Batiste, composer (Jon Batiste)
  • “Shaw: Narrow Sea” — Caroline Shaw, composer (Dawn Upshaw, Gilbert Kalish and Sō Percussion) 
  •  


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Classical music review: Violinist Augustin Hadelich and the Madison Symphony Orchestra triumph in an unforgettable and moving performance of Prokofiev’s Second Concerto.

January 24, 2012
16 Comments

By Jacob Stockinger

I doubt I will hear a better performance of any concerto in this season,or many others, than I heard at the Sunday afternoon concert by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

Several reasons account for that.

One reason is that the concerto was the Violin Concerto No. 2 in G minor, Op. 63, composed in 1935 by Sergei Prokofiev (below), which – hard to believe but true – has never been performed before by the Madison Symphony Orchestra.

It is one of the great concertos, the masterpiece concertos, of the 20th century. It is simply a terrific work that especially in the slow second movement, which opens with a solo aria underpinned by pizzicato plucking, becomes a sublime work, one that brought The Ear to tears with its poignant and breath-taking beauty. (Listen to it at the bottom.)

A second reason is that the young violinist Augustin Hadelich (below), who last played the popular Mendelssohn Violin Concerto with the Wisconsin Chamber orchestra two years ago, was the soloist. At 28, he is not only a complete violin virtuoso, but also a deep musician who puts the music first, never himself or the violin. He has a great future facing him, and we can hope it is a very long one.

The third reason was that the conductor, MSO music director John DeMain (below) was on exactly the same wavelength as Hadelich and offered him an accompaniment that was precise and soulful at the same time.

Listening to Hadelich is to hear the emergence of a great talent. So I add Hadelich to the short list of great young violin talents the MSO has been booking. Hadelich is right at the top of the list, along with the Norwegian violinist Henning Kraggerud (below) who has turned in astonishingly musical versions of such warhorses as the Sibelius and Tchaikovsky concertos.

I have long argued that Prokofiev was the Mozart of the Soviet Union while Shostakovich was its Beethoven. I could develop that argument at length. But on Sunday the music made the argument for me.

Prokofiev can be percussive, but more often he has a transparency, an elegant simplicity and a gift for melody that reminds one of Mozart.

As one veteran listener remarked to me, “I’m not familiar with the concerto, but I found I could really understand it and make sense of it on the first hearing.” Is there a better definition of classicism? Unfortunately, there is a lot of modern and contemporary classical music you cannot say that about.

Both DeMain and Hadelich played with such conviction and dedication that they took you inside the piece. From the opening strain of the solo violin to the closing measure of the energetic and march-like perpetual motion, toccata-like rondo that brought a standing ovation, the Prokofiev concerto enthralled the audience.

I am betting it will not be another 80 years or so before we get to hear this work again at an MSO concert. At least I certainly hope not. What Prokofiev’s Third Concerto is to the piano, his Second Concerto is to the violin – a glorious masterpiece of the modern repertoire that is also a sure-fire hit with audiences.

As for Hadelich, he is the real deal – an heir to such violin virtuosos as Jascha HeifetzDavid Oistrakh and Itzhak Perlman. He has tone and power, lyricism and virtuosity. Even the encore he played, the famous Caprice no. 24 by Paganini (below is the opening of the score) with the familiar theme that Liszt, Brahms, Rachmaninoff and Lutoslawki among others used for variations, sounded more musical than I have ever heard it in live or recorded performances.

In short, Hadelich goes for the music, never the glitz or schmaltz. It is true in his live performances and it is also true of the recordings I have heard. It makes you wonder if the severe burns he suffered in an accident at 15 and took two years to recover from didn’t deepen his maturity and his underlying appreciation of music. But, then again, maybe that is too easy an explanation for his superlative talent.

The other works on the program were extremely well performed, but nonetheless seemed to pale just a little bit in comparison to the superlative and stirring Prokofiev.

Debussy’s “Iberia” was a fine curtain-raiser, especially on an afternoon when we needed a bit of warm and sunny Spain to melt the freezing rain that had begun to fall with its color and rhythms. I often think DeMain is more at home in Ravel, who had a better sense of structure. But he did justice to modernist Debussy in this reading.

The last half of the concert consisted of Tchaikovsky’s early Symphony No. 2 “Little Russian” (or the “Ukrainian,” as Big Russians liked to pejoratively call it) was given a sparking reading by the MSO. That the score is often repetitive to a fault is only to criticize Tchaikovsky’s usual method and to remark that for most listeners, his first three symphonies can’t really compete with the maturity of his last three. Most listeners prefer the Fifth or Sixth (the famous “Pathetique”), while my vote goes for the Fourth.

Still, from the very beginning of his career Tchaikovsky (below) demonstrated a great facility for memorable melodies and appealing, accessible orchestration. (Am I the only  person who thought of Mussorgsky’s popular and dramatic “Great Gate at Kiev” from his “Pictures at an Exhibition” during the opening measures of the last movement of the Tchaikovsky?) Those aspects, present even in this early symphony, made for a solid and stirring performance that wrapped up an outstanding program that will, for me, remain one of the peaks of the current MSO season.

Of course, other critics had other things to say, and it can be fun and illuminating to compare us.

So here are some links to other reviews:

Here is John W. Barker’s review for Isthmus:

http://www.thedailypage.com/daily/article.php?article=35764

And here is Lindsay Christians’ review for The Capital Times and 77 Square:

http://host.madison.com/entertainment/arts_and_theatre/reviews/symphony-explores-with-international-program/article_0981d1e2-443f-11e1-8edb-001871e3ce6c.html

Here is Greg Hettmansberger’s review for Madison Magazine’s “Classically Speaking” blog:

http://www.madisonmagazine.com/Blogs/Classically-Speaking/January-2012/Madison-Symphony-Developing-a-Surprising-Tradition/

And here is Bill Wineke’s for WISC-TV’s Channel 3000:

http://www.channel3000.com/news/30268301/detail.html

Play critic yourself.

What did you think of the MSO concert?

Of the Prokofiev Violin Concerto No. 2?

Of violinist Augustin Hadelich?

The Ear wants to hear.


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