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Grammys: L.A. Phil and Esa-Pekka Salonen among classical nominees

December 06, 2013|By Mark Swed, Los Angeles Times Music Critic
  • Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Lutoslawski's Third Symphony with the Los Angeles Philharmonic in November 2012.
Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts Lutoslawski's Third Symphony with the… (Michael Robinson Chavez…)

Los Angeles’ increasing reputation as a capital for new classical music got further confirmation from the Grammy Awards on Friday night. Five recordings that involve the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Santa Monica new music series Jacaranda, the Piano Spheres pianist Gloria Cheng and the Ojai Festival received a total of seven nominations in five categories.

It is a particularly big year for the L.A. Phil’s conductor laureate Esa-Pekka Salonen. His recording of Witold Lutoslawski’s First Symphony with his former orchestra, released in a Salonen/L.A. Phil set of the late Polish composer’s four symphonies, will be up for best orchestra performance (his L.A. Phil recording of the Lutoslawski Third won a Grammy in 1986).

Meanwhile Salonen’s Violin Concerto, which was commissioned and premiered by the L.A. Phil (although recorded with the Finnish Radio Orchestra), has been nominated for best contemporary classical composition. The concerto’s soloist, Leila Josefowicz, is also nominated for her performance in the best classical instrumental solo.

FULL COVERAGE: Grammy nominations 2014

Salonen’s concerto is up against yet another local commission: Maria Schneider’s “Winter Morning Walks,” commissioned by and premiered at the Ojai Festival.

And it has a further nomination for its soloist, four-time Grammy-winning soprano Dawn Upshaw, in the best classical vocal solo category.

Cheng, another previous Grammy winner, is, like Josefowicz, nominated for best classical instrumental solo. The pianist’s recording, “The Edge of Light,” features appropriately luminous solo performances of works by Messiaen and Kaija Saariaho. Los Angeles’ Calder Quartet makes an appearance as well in piano quintet pieces by both composers.

PHOTOS: Grammys 2014 top nominees

If these are all Grammy familiars, the outlier here is an ad-hoc group of four players who have made the first complete recording of John Cage’s “The Ten Thousand Things,” a collection of five different pieces played simultaneously following a performance  at Jacaranda in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the composer’s birth last year.

As a novelty, the performance, which is stunning, is available in two forms. One is a standard CD. The other is a hi-def computer download that randomly mixes the work so that, in keeping with Cage’s interest in indeterminacy, you hear something different each time you play it.

And that means that the Grammy judges will each be voting on a different performance for the same recording. Cage, who died in 1992 and whose music thus far remains Grammy-free, would surely have found that a marvelous situation.

TIMELINE: Grammy Awards through the years

Here are highlights of the classical nominees:

Best orchestral performance

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

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

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

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

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

COMPLETE LIST: 2014 Grammy Awards nominees

Best opera recording

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  [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) [Virgin Classics]

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

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

PHOTOS: Grammys 2014 concert highlights

Best choral performance

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

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