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Boulez a Familiar Face Amid Change

January 05, 2002|Mark Swed

Classical music recording has never been less homogenous, with big labels cutting back, new independents springing to life and an overall branching out historically and geographically. And the Grammy nominations this year reflect that diversity fairly well.

Even so, one irresistible Grammy favorite, Pierre Boulez, does still dominate the list with three recordings nominated in five categories. Boulez's spectacular recording of works by Varese played by the Chicago Symphony is nominated for best classical and orchestral recordings. His latest version of Schoenberg's Piano Concerto with Mitsuko Uchida and the Cleveland Orchestra also has a best classical album nomination (Uchida received a nomination as best soloist as well). Meanwhile, Boulez's own dazzling, recent masterpiece, "Sur Incises," played by the Ensemble InterContemporain, is nominated for best contemporary composition and best chamber music performance.

The most honored single release by this year's Grammy nominators, however, reflects the changing face of classical recording.

The live performance of Berlioz's opera "The Trojans," with nominations for best classical, opera and best engineered recording, was not produced commercially but by the London Symphony Orchestra. James Mallinson, the producer of the admirable series of live LSO Berlioz releases under Colin Davis, is also nominated.

Other artists who have made strong showings are Danish composer Poul Ruders, whose new opera, "Handmaid's Tale," has multiple nominations, as does the Angeles String Quartet for its celebrated Haydn set.

Contemporary compositions are more prevalent than ever--for instance, the new passions by Osvaldo Golijov (the Los Angeles Philharmonic's current composer in residence) and Wolfgang Rihm both received nominations for best choral recording. Giuseppe Sinopoli, whose premature death last year shocked the classical world, is remembered for two of his last recordings--Strauss' "Ariadne auf Naxos" and Dvorak's "Stabat Mater."

But perhaps the two categories that most typify the unpredictable and even venturesome nature of this year's nominations are that of best small ensemble performance (a study in eclecticism) and best crossover (all respectable recordings rather than the cheesy discs that dominate sales).


Mark Swed

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