"On the Transmigration of Souls," having already won a Pulitzer Prize for composer John Adams in 2003, has now earned a Grammy classical triple crown. The Nonesuch CD won trophies for best classical album, orchestral performance and contemporary composition. The fact that it movingly commemorates 9/11 victims may, however, have impelled sentimental Grammy voters' knees to jerk. The terrific Nonesuch disc of Adams' "Road Movies" and the sensational DVD of his opera "The Death of Klinghoffer" were, inexplicably, losers.
But then knee-jerk is the Grammy way. A much-celebrated (i.e. much-publicized) recording of Mozart's "Marriage of Figaro" was the unsurprising opera winner. A tradition of giving a prize or seven to Atlanta led to statuettes for an unimaginative performance of Berlioz's Requiem (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Chorus) and a disc of Jennifer Higdon works (Atlanta Symphony Orchestra), for engineering that made banal music sound banal.
David Frost is producer of the year for the politically correct and musically unexceptional Naxos series of Jewish music, even if the actual recordings were hardly deemed worth celebrating. The series garnered but a single nomination in the category of small ensemble performance; it lost to Southwest Chamber Music's second Carlos Chavez volume, one of two local winners (the L.A. Guitar Quartet was the other, for crossover).