This year's Grammy Awards are shaping up to be unusually intriguing for classical music listeners.
Two of the nominees, the Minnesota Orchestra and Claudio Abbado, have been in the headlines lately. Another performer, pianist Lang Lang, will take the stage with one of the biggest bands on the planet on Sunday.
The Minnesota Orchestra has had no shortage of coverage lately, after spending 2013 in a bitter management dispute and lockout that ended just a few weeks ago. But there’s good news: The orchestra’s 2013 recording of Sibelius’ symphonies Nos. 1 and 4 is nominated for Best Orchestral Performance, and the orchestra will resume its concert schedule soon.
Here’s how the Minnesota Post described the nominated album, for which the orchestra received its second Grammy nod in two years:
These superbly engineered recordings were the last to be made in Orchestra Hall before its renovation, and the last made by the Minnesota Orchestra before management locked out its musicians in October. They document an extraordinary marriage, much worked-at, of conductor and ensemble. It’s the nature of such marriages to be somewhat fragile, especially in times of adversity. Let’s hope that this one can survive the current troubles.
Claudio Abbado, one of the world’s best known and most highly regarded conductors, passed away Monday after a long illness. Abbado made hundreds of recordings, and he’s nominated for Best Orchestral Performance for one of his final releases: “Schumann: Symphony No. 2, Overtures.” He recorded the album with Orchestra Mozart, one of several ensembles he found.
If Abbado wins, it will be his third Grammy victory, following awards in 1997 and 2005.
Also nominated in the category are the Los Angeles Philharmonic, Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and the Berlin Philharmonic, whose members are undoubtedly grieving the loss of Abbado, their former conductor.
Energetic pianist Lang Lang, who isn’t nominated for an award, will likely be the most visible classical musician on the broadcast. He’s sitting in with Metallica, adding a piano part to their song “One,” Rolling Stone reports:
(Metallica guitarist Kirk) Hammett says that the band has already been working on a demo of the track with Lang Lang's contributions and it works. "He's going to be weaving in and out of my guitar solos, which is amazing for me, because I've never played with another instrument that's been able to do that so effortlessly," he says.
An additional Colorado connection to the Best Classical Competition category: Caroline Shaw, who will perform in Denver next month as part of the American Contemporary Music Ensemble, is among the five nominees for her piece “Partita for Eight Voices,” recorded by Roomful of Teeth. (The ACME ensemble will perform live in CPR's Performance Studio at 11 a.m. Monday, Feb. 10.)
Listen to CPR Classical this weekend to hear recordings from many of the classical nominees.