Thursday, December 16, 2010
Since I wrote last Saturday about Elliott Carter celebrating his 102nd birthday with a new work given its world premiere in Toronto, I thought today I’d tell you about a new work that received its world premiere this past summer, a brand new symphony by Ludwig van Beethoven.
The only difference is – this is fiction.
Well, it might seem obvious, but I just wanted to be sure we’re all on the same foot (bunions aside).
This is an excerpt from The Doomsday Symphony, a music appreciation thriller which I began sketching over the summer and started writing in mid-October. During the month of November, it was my NaNoWriMo project where the goal was to write an additional 50,000 words by the end of the month (piece of cake). Even at 90,000 words, it’s not finished yet and, though friends have asked me about it, it’s also not ready to be posted at Thoughts on a Train.
Unlike my earlier attempts -- The Schoenberg Code and The Lost Chord – this one is not a parody of anything written by Dan Brown. While it would be difficult to say it is entirely “original” – now, there’s a philosophical red-herring – despite the occasional parody, let’s just say in The Doomsday Symphony, I’m on my own.
First of all, to explain – most of the story takes place on Harmonia-IV, one of a series of parallel universes that is neither exactly Heaven nor Hell where, our hero Dr. T.R. Cranleigh discovers, the population consists mostly of dead musicians or people who once considered themselves musicians, even some music critics (though for these latter it’s probably the equivalent of Hell).
This is the after-life home of many of the great composers – others may reside on Harmonia-V, some fewer on Harmonia-ii6 while others ended up, through some kind of cosmic deception, on Harmonia-vi but I digress – who, contrary to what we might assume, continue to compose and occasionally hang out, discussing music over their beers, at Stravinsky’s Tavern. In these various parallel universes, by the way, interlopers from The Other Side (like Cranleigh) are called Trespassers though the popular slang is Zoombies, from the Greek word ζωή (zoe) meaning “life.”
The plot involves two villains, each with their independent villainies. In the one that initially draws our hero (a know-it-all musicologist who knows a great deal about very little) to Harmonia-IV, Dr. Klavdia Klangfarben, a trained forensic musicologist, has been hired as an agent by SHMRG’s CEO, N. Ron Steele and his Director of Office Supplies and Classical Music, the would-be composer Manfred (or “Man”) Kaye. They want to “kill off the great composers of the past” in an attempt to corner the market in the music licensing business.
Through her thesis advisor, the great Danish musicologist Frøkken Bohr, Klangfarben has discovered that a legendary parallel universe where dead composers go exists and can be accessed through a time-gate located in a field outside the abandoned mining town of New Coalton in Eastern Pennsylvania.
Once there, with the help of a lawyer and former musician named Abner Kedaver who counted among his clients Brahms and Mahler, she manages to find the hand-held time-traveling devices the Harmonians use to travel back in time. This way, she can affect the lives of composers like Bach, Wagner, Mozart and Beethoven not by killing them before their prime but by in some way altering their lives so they never achieve the greatness that we revere them for.
Without them, other composers would not have been influenced by them because, as we know them, they would never really have existed. What would Brahms be without Beethoven, for instance? And so it affects music in a more long-range way than it might initially seem.
In this way, then, by talking a 20-year-old Bach into accepting Dietrich Buxtehude’s job offer to stay in Lübeck as the resident organist – an offer which included marrying his eldest daughter, ten years his senior – Bach might never have gone to Leipzig, would be unlikely to have fathered some twenty children, and would probably have developed into a very fine composer on the level of Buxtehude but probably only one as well known today as Buxtehude – a great composer, perhaps, but not a Great Composer, if you get my drift.
The second plot involves a mild-mannered assistant conductor named Rogers Kent-Clarke (who once studied with conductor Louis Lane) who, following Cranleigh, finds himself in the middle of Harmonia-IV, meets Gustav Mahler and hears him telling people about his latest symphony in which (a kind of counterpart to his 2nd Symphony, the Resurrection) he describes the End of the World.
With a series of increasingly dissonant chords – similar to the three fateful chords of his 6th Symphony which some call the Tragic – carefully placed structurally throughout the course of this ninety-minute-long work, Mahler is convinced the last chord will bring about the destruction of the universe. A philosopher and apocalyptic cult-leader named Siegfried Schweinwurfer (translated literally from the German as War-Peace Pig-Thrower) therefore dubs it the Doomsday Symphony. Kent-Clarke makes up his mind to steal the score, return to Earth with it and become famous for discovering and premiering a new Mahler symphony – in essence, becoming a SuperConductor.
The rather serious side effect of his ambition, unfortunately, could bring about the destruction of the world in 2012, another plot that Cranleigh and his associates - now including Harmonian Detective Milo Smighley and the detective from Pennsylvania who got involved in investigating something completely different at the beginning of the story, Jenna Sainte-Croix - must solve before the novel's end.
Hence, the title of the novel – since I thought Bach to the Future wasn’t quite as effective.
Anyway, at this point, early in our story, the Universal Philharmonic – under the direction of a conductor whose name I have not yet chosen – is preparing the premiere of Beethoven’s latest symphony, his 39th. This is the opening sequence from (quite coincidentally) Chapter #39, at the first rehearsal held in Einstein Hall.
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The DOOMSDAY SYMPHONY - CHAPTER 39
The music was so calm, so self-assured and, above all, so beautiful. From the expansive opening, magisterial yet thoroughly human, there was no doubt on any of their faces this would be Beethoven at his best. Here was a new masterpiece and this orchestra was the first to bring it to life. Every one of them sensed the honor.
And the responsibility.
They followed [Maestro] implicitly, watching the years melt away from him. The crotchety old man, frail yet still in his prime, became the music – likewise calm, self-assured and even, in a way, beautiful.
They knew that Beethoven had been working for over a decade on this symphony, starting the sketches even before he had begun the last one. That one had disappointed many, though the composer held his ground.
"What is it with critics bad-mouthing my even-numbered symphonies," he continually groused. "Can't they tell they're all good, each in their own way?"
Even if you considered his posthumous career, now over 180 years and thirty symphonies later, Beethoven still managed to come up with different responses each time he came face-to-face with what he called "the Symphonic Question." He'd gone much farther than Haydn – even a thousand symphonies later – had ever done. Mahler himself would be much affected by this one.
And how he hated sitting there in Stravinsky's Tavern having to deal with Mahler and those endless discussions about "What is a Symphony?" It was enough to make him miss the old days of the conversation books!
What started out like a slow introduction, despite the tempo indication of Allegro non troppo (not too fast), gradually unfolded as the first theme, the violins playing the notes of a triad – slowly undulating arpeggios – which the solo horn then picked up and, playing them in faster rhythms, turned into a gradually unwinding melody supported by flutes and clarinets. This melody, more than just a triad, served as its own harmony. What sounded like a chord progression turned into sequences of this melodic-harmonic cell flowing so seamlessly, you could overlook how simple it really was.
But that was Basic Beethoven. A common device from his mortal symphonies, he expanded it to greater and more complex lengths in his 13th, 27th and 35th symphonies, yet never losing that sense of sublime simplicity. His famous small cells, the building blocks opening his 5th or 21st symphonies, became larger, like durable structural beams spun out of diamonds.
And it wasn't only his own works where you sensed this. Without Beethoven's examples, the symphonies of Brahms and Bruckner, Mahler, Shostakovich or Sibelius would all have been very different works, each finding significant influences there. Even those "anti-symphonies" by Berlioz and Liszt found inspiration in Beethoven's "Pastoral," at least metaphorically, implying some dramatic story told across its surface.
But Beethoven argued these were only "surface elements." You needed to dig down to find the structural architecture that supported the surface: in lesser composers, symphonies like that usually fell flat because it lacked this support.
It didn't matter whether listeners could "hear" this or not – and by that he meant "hear it and consciously point it out," talking technically the way a composer might talk about it – that wasn't the point. It was something subconsciously understood, a realization satisfying the listener without necessarily knowing why; unsatisfying, much the same way, when it was lacking.
Studying the latest music written over the past century, Beethoven had become disturbed by the sound of some trends composers were following but he understood them as direct reactions – pro or con – to his own ideas.
If Schoenberg ordered pitches in the technical way serialism implied, he was doing so because he understood the organic importance of inner structure.
Though he wasn't pleased initially with Alex Ross's statement, "Beethoven got it wrong," in his otherwise wonderful book, The Rest Is Noise, he understood it was all a reaction to him, impossible if he'd never been.
First, the orchestra "ran" each movement through non-stop to get a sense of it before going back to fix some technical details. Basically, for a first rehearsal, everything was progressing smoothly, nothing requiring them to stop. They might need to clear something up that hadn't come across quite so clearly, but on the whole he was feeling pretty confident.
Used to having the composers sitting in on later sessions of the rehearsal process, Maestro [Name] was even more nervous than usual. Beethoven was quite well known as a notorious stickler, not one he'd risk disappointing.
If his musicians weren't "on the needles and pins of extreme anxiety," as he put it, he himself was feeling close to nausea, ready to break out in a sweat at the least chance of complication. While it was deemed an honor to premiere a major new work by Beethoven, many conductors often wondered, "was it worth the aggravation?"
The one trumpet player missed his cue and came in a beat late but managed to catch himself, making the necessary correction so that he, the conductor and Beethoven were probably the only ones who noticed. Otherwise, the first movement's read-through had gone splendidly, only a few other things needing touched up here and there, but otherwise quite impressive.
There was that spot leading up to the scherzo's trio they'd have to go back and work on – something in the cross-rhythms between winds and strings before the trombones entered – but the second movement went surprisingly well.
Throughout the rehearsal, [Maestro] expected to be interrupted by the composer at any moment, but there was nothing – not even a cough. Was it possible that Beethoven had already left? Hadn't he liked it at all?
Then from the darkness of the auditorium, there was enthusiastic applause from their lone audience. Beethoven, usually quite reserved, was shouting, "Bravo! Superb!"
"So with that, everyone – good job! Let's take a break," he smiled, "ten minutes. No, we're ahead of schedule – make it twenty."
Stepping down from the podium, [Maestro] looked like a much younger man than before.
Very few rehearsals in recent memory had gone this well. [Maestro] was often reticent with his praise so between that and hearing Beethoven yelling "Bravo" from the hall was enough to put smiles on everybody's faces.
Marsha Funebre, the personnel manager, was clapping everybody on the back, wishing she had champagne to pass around backstage instead of plain soda.
= = = = = = =
From there, the plot continues.
Two members of the orchestra are secret agents working for the Security Division of BHUIA, the Bureau of Harmonian Universal Intelligence Agency (formed from two previous but redundant organizations, the Bureau of Harmonian Intelligence and the Universal Intelligence Agency).
Agents Rondo Sharrif, the principal horn player (a young Palestinian musician who had been killed in an attack by a suicide bomber on his way to a rehearsal with the West-East Divan Orchestra), and violist Roger Babbitt (whose initial appearance, running late for the rehearsal, is very much like the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland) are summoned to appear as witnesses in the trial where Judge Willa Fortune will preside over the case against Dr. Cranleigh and his associates, Trespassers wrongly charged with the plot to kill the Great Composers (who, of course, wonder what’s the point, since they’re already dead) while Klangfarben runs free to next attack Mozart.
Incidentally, like many names in The Doomsday Symphony, Rondo Sharrif, such a fine player his friends call him “Horn Solo,” is an anagram, in this case of Harrison Ford (who, of course, was Han Solo in the original Star Wars).
But there is more to this excerpt than meets the eye – just as there is usually more to the music than meets the ear – but I’ll get into that in my next post.
Saturday, December 11, 2010
According to this article in the Toronto Star, the New Music Concerts ensemble, led by flutist and long-time Carter advocate and collaborator Robert Aitken, Carter was unable to attend the performance but for what reasons, I'm not sure.
Talking with Aitken several weeks ago, the composer had said "If I feel then as well as I feel now, I'll go anywhere!" But many things can happen at this time of year – weather, transportation as well as health issues. (I'm also trying to imagine Carter dealing with the TSA scans and pat-downs...)
This past June, Carter attended the world premiere of his recent song cycle, setting poems of Marianne Moore, "What Are Years?" at the Aldeburgh Festival.
The world premiere in Toronto last night was the Concertino for Bass Clarinet and ensemble, written late last year for his long-time assistant, Virgil Blackwell.
Here is an interview recorded with Carter a month ago – Blackwell is also present for some of it. The production uses a lot of un-Carteresque ambient sound as well as clips of works by other composers who've influenced him as well as tantalizing snippets of his own works plus a kind of time-line where you might hear a bit of a piece Carter wrote in a certain year followed by something from Beckett's "Waiting for Godot" written that same year, or a historical speech or announcement about some major news event.
In all, it's a very good introduction for people who are not familiar with his style, may not in fact like his style but could understand his approach to his music – how he writes it but more importantly how he thinks about it as he's writing it.
Despite its legendary complexity, his music does not start out to be "complicated." As I've tried to explain to people who are put off by the fact you can't tap your toe to it, the "complexity" is a way of approximating what he's hearing – how the instruments, for instance, are expressing their personalities (he often talks about how the players are characters who have ideas and reactions, who may discuss things and who may change their ideas and opinions over time), how these elements overlap in time and how their rhythms interact with each other sometimes by seeming not to interact, the way we normally think of it, but often exist on separate planes simultaneously.
And if you think about it, despite his well-known way of expressing himself which often sounds much like his music – playful, often tangential, sometimes stuttering to find the right word or idea – he doesn't sound bad for a man a month shy of turning 102!
That fact alone is enough for people to take notice of him – "wow, the man's 102 years old, imagine that!" – but the fact he's also busy composing and looking forward to the next piece is also amazing. Since his late-80s, he has become even more prolific than he had been when he was considered on the tail-end of his career after 70.
His earliest music reflected a lot of what was going on around him in New Music before World War II. The "Holiday Overture" and the two ballets "Pocahontas" and (for me, especially) "The Minotaur" as well as his "Symphony No. 1" would all be typical of the American Scene between the wars – sounding like a mix of Copland and Ives, perhaps – but there are lots of fingerprints of the more mature composer already in these works.
After the war, with the Piano Sonata – to me, a work that would fit into any recital program as well as Liszt's monumental sonata – things started taking on a different turn. The Cello Sonata plays off this "time-counterpoint" where the cello is flexible but the piano more rigid and often moving at a different "pace" than the sound of the cello. Also, in one sense, the cello is "romantic," emotional and varied, while the piano is more "classical," stricter sounding and structural, the bones of the piece whereas the cello is the skin, the heart, the soul of the piece.
It wasn't until the First String Quartet that Carter reached his "true voice." This work, composed famously in the isolation of the Arizona desert where the sense of time – an all-important facet of his style – is very different from living in New York City. Not only is it his most expansive work, the quartet flows with an organic quality that is like life itself.
By this time, he was in his early-40s, considered a "late-bloomer" compared to other composers who'd found their voice at a much younger age.
The music he wrote in the '60s and '70s – like the Concerto for Orchestra or the Third Quartet (which is really two duos playing two often different but simultaneous pieces, each duo even playing a different number of movements) – is his most complex and was viewed at the time as "Late Carter." The man, after all was in his mid-60s. Most commentators, looking for a pigeon-hole description, referred to these pieces as his "Late Period," as Beethoven's "Late Quartets" are Beethoven at his most complex.
I met Carter by accident standing on line to get tickets for a performance celebrating his impending 70th Birthday which included all three of the string quartets. He was there to pick up some tickets for friends of his – rather than calling and having them reserved. We talked briefly – when I told him I had been teaching at the University of Connecticut, he said "Oh, UConn – Charlie Whittenberg teaches there. He's a very fine composer." (When I told Charlie that, later – he was always having severe self-esteem issues – I remember him sitting back and sitting up straight with an expression that really struck home with him. I can only hope it helped him in his final years – he died not long after that.)
So the general attitude was, Carter, now 70, would do what most composers do when they reach retirement age – write less, rest on his laurels, and perhaps focus more on teaching or being an Elder Statesman in the New Music World.
But not so with Carter. Since the 1980s, when he was 75, he began a whole new wave of creativity, probably the most prolific period of his life. While many of these may be "miniatures" and solo pieces, there are several concertos, a few large-scale orchestral works, two more string quartets, songs and song-cycles, and, most surprisingly, his first opera, "What's Next?" which he composed for performances during his 90th Birthday celebrations!
Carter's biographical entry at Wikipedia has a partial list of works, of which over 75 were written after he turned 75.
Not many composers have a "Post-Late" Period...
Elliott Carter has long been a favorite composer of mine and his birthday is something I celebrate the way other music-lovers might observe Beethoven's or Mozart's birthdays. Today and over the next few days, I will be listening to several recordings – some of them, with scores – starting with another of my favorite works, his "Variations for Orchestra" – the full score I ordered last week through Barnes & Noble On-Line arrived in the mail just an hour ago, just in time to help me celebrate the composer's 102nd Birthday.
In the next few days, I will try to post some video-clips (the wonder of YouTube) of some of his works, including an exciting performance of his Cello Concerto (written in 2001) by Dane Johansen, a Juilliard student who chose it for his Concerto Competition Diploma, recorded at a dress-rehearsal with the Juilliard Orchestra conducted by a long-time Carter champion, James Levine.
Or this performance by Pierre-Laurent Aimard of a brief solo piano piece, "Catenaires" which Carter composed as one of many works to be premiered during the world-wide celebration of his 100th Birthday.
The vitality of this music is stunning regardless of its complexity – and then when you consider Carter was 92 when he composed the Cello Concerto and almost 100 when he wrote "Catenaires," it is even more stunning.
Happy Birthday, Mr. Carter – and ||: many happy returns :||
- Dick Strawser
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Photo credit: The header photo of Elliott Carter, which I found unattributed on a few different internet posts, was probably taken during a pre-concert interview, I suspect from the DVD accompanying Naxos' 100th Birthday Celebration disc featuring Robert Aitken and members of the Toronto-based New Music Concerts Ensemble.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
Not that I have anything against LL Cool J (he's great on NCIS: Los Angeles) but there isn't enough Benadryl in the house for me to sit through even two minutes of Justin Bieber, so I'm just scouring the web-site waiting for the list of nominees to be posted because, like, I rather doubt Hilary Hahn's going to be playing the 3rd Movement of Jennifer Higdon's Violin Concerto on the TV show (wouldn't that be great!).
Anyway, the winners will be announced on February 13th, 2011, at 8pm – about 73 days from now, if you're counting down.
(UPDATE: for the Winners, follow this link.)
Here are the nominees in the Classical Division: congratulations to everyone whose recording was nominated!
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95. Best Engineered Album, Classical – An Engineer's Award. (Artist names appear in parentheses.)
Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina -- Mark Donahue, John Hill & Dirk Sobotka, engineers (Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony Orchestra) [Naxos]
Have You Ever Been...? -- Robert Friedrich, engineer (Turtle Island Quartet, Stefon Harris & Mike Marshall) [Telarc]
Mackey, Steven: Dreamhouse - David Frost, Tom Lazarus, Steven Mackey & Dirk Sobotka, engineers (Gil Rose, Rinde Eckert, Catch Electric Guitar Quartet, Synergy Vocals & Boston Modern Orchestra Project) [BMOP/sound]
Porter, Quincy: Complete Viola Works - Leslie Ann Jones, Kory Kruckenberg & David Sabee, engineers (Eliesha Nelson & John McLaughlin Williams) [Dorian Sono Luminus]
Vocabularies - Steve Miller, Allen Sides & Roger Treece, engineers (Bobby McFerrin) [Emarcy]
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Corigliano: Violin Concerto 'The Red Violin' (Michael Ludwig, JoAnn Falletta & Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra)
Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina (Giancarlo Guerrero & Nashville Symphony)
Rachmaninov: Symphony No. 2 (Leonard Slatkin & Detroit Symphony Orchestra)
Tower Of The Eight Winds - Music For Violin & Piano By Judith Shatin (Borup-Ernst Duo)
Tyberg: Symphony No. 3; Piano Trio (JoAnn Falletta & Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra)
Wind Serenades (Gregory Wolynec & Gateway Chamber Ensemble)
Britten's Orchestra (Michael Stern & Kansas City Symphony)
Chambers, Evan: The Old Burying Ground (Kenneth Kiesler & The University Of Michigan Symphony Orchestra)
Dorman, Avner: Concertos For Mandolin, Piccolo, Piano And Concerto Grosso (Andrew Cyr, Eliran Avni, Mindy Kaufman, Avi Avital & Metropolis Ensemble)
The 5 Browns In Hollywood (5 Browns)
Mackey, Steven: Dreamhouse (Gil Rose, Rinde Eckert, Catch Electric Guitar Quartet, Synergy Vocals & Boston Modern Orchestra Project)
Meeting Of The Spirits (Matt Haimovitz)
Two Roads To Exile (ARC Ensemble)
Adams: Nixon In China (Marin Alsop, Tracy Dahl, Marc Heller, Thomas Hammons, Maria Kanyova, Robert Orth, Chen-Ye Yan, Opera Colorado Chorus & Colorado Symphony Orchestra)
Debussy: Le Martyre De Saint Sébastien (Jun Märkl & Orchestre National De Lyon)
Dohnányi: Variations On A Nursery Song (JoAnn Falletta, Eldar Nebolsin & Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra)
Harris: Symphonies Nos. 5 & 6 (Marin Alsop & Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra)
Hubay: Violin Concertos Nos. 1 And 2 (Chloë Hanslip, Andrew Mogrelia & Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra)
Messiaen: Poèmes Pour Mi (Anne Schwanewilms, Jun Märkl & Orchestre National De Lyon)
Piazzolla: Sinfonía Buenos Aires (Daniel Binelli, Tianwa Yang, Giancarlo Guerro & Nashville Symphony Orchestra)
Ries: Works For Flute And Piano (Uwe Grodd & Matteo Napoli)
Roussel: Symphony No. 1 (Stéphane Denève & Royal Scottish National Orchestra)
Shchedrin: Concertos For Orchestra Nos. 4 & 5 (Kirill Karabits & Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra)
Stamitz: Flute Concertos (Robert Aitken, Donatas Katkus & St. Christopher Chamber Orchestra)
Strauss, R: Josephs-Legende; Rosenkavalier; Die Frau Ohne Schatten (Orchestral Suites) (JoAnn Falletta & Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra)
Marina A. Ledin, Victor Ledin
Brubeck: Songs Of Praise (Lynne Morrow, Richard Grant, Quartet San Francisco & The Pacific Mozart Ensemble)
Cascade Of Roses (Janice Weber)
Gnattali: Solo & Chamber Works For Guitar (Marc Regnier)
If I Were A Bird (Michael Lewin)
Kletzki: Piano Concerto (Joseph Banowetz, Thomas Sanderling & Russian Philharmonic Orchestra)
Porter, Quincy: Complete Viola Works (Eliesha Nelson & John McLaughlin Williams)
Rubinstein: Piano Music (1852-1894) (Joseph Banowetz)
Rubinstein: Piano Music (1871-1890) (Joseph Banowetz)
20th Century Harp Sonatas (Sarah Schuster Ericsson)
Mahler: Symphony No. 2 (Bernard Haitink, Duain Wolfe, Miah Persson, Christianne Stotijn, Chicago Symphony Chorus & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
Prokofiev: Romeo And Juliet (Valery Gergiev & London Symphony Orchestra)
Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer (Valery Gergiev, Evgeny Akimov, Sergei Aleksashkin, Kristina Kapustinskaya, Mariinsky Chorus & Mariinsky Orchestra)
Strauss, R: Ein Heldenleben; Webern: Im Sommerwind (Bernard Haitink & Chicago Symphony Orchestra)
Strauss, R: Eine Alpensinfonie (Bernard Haitink & London Symphony Orchestra)
Tchaikovsky: Rococo Variations; Prokofiev: Sinfonia Concertante (Gautier Capuçon, Valery Gergiev & Orchestra Of The Mariinsky Theatre)
Wagner: Parsifal (Valery Gergiev, Gary Lehman, Violeta Urmana, René Pape, Evgeny Nikitin, Alexei Tanovitski, Nikolai Putilin, Mariinsky Chorus & Mariinsky Orchestra)
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Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 - Mariss Jansons, conductor; Everett Porter, producer; Everett Porter, mastering engineer (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) [RCO Live]
Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina - Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Blanton Alspaugh, producer; Mark Donahue, John Hill & Dirk Sobotka, engineers/mixers (Terrence Wilson; Nashville Symphony Orchestra) [Naxos]
Mackey, Steven: Dreamhouse - Gil Rose, conductor; Rinde Eckert; Catch Electric Guitar Quartet; David Frost, producer; David Frost, Tom Lazarus, Steven Mackey & Dirk Sobotka, engineers/mixers; Silas Brown, mastering engineer (Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Synergy Vocals) [BMOP/sound]
Sacrificium - Giovanni Antonini, conductor; Cecilia Bartoli; Arend Prohmann, producer; Philip Siney, engineer/mixer (Il Giardino Armonico) [Decca]
Verdi: Requiem - Riccardo Muti, conductor; Duain Wolfe, chorus master; Christopher Alder, producer; David Frost, Tom Lazarus & Christopher Willis, engineers/mixers (Ildar Abdrazakov, Olga Borodina, Barbara Frittoli & Mario Zeffiri; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Chicago Symphony Chorus) [CSO Resound]
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Bruckner: Symphonies Nos. 3 & 4 - Mariss Jansons, conductor (Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra) [RCO Live]
Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony; Deus Ex Machina - Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor (Terrence Wilson; Nashville Symphony) [Naxos]
Mackey, Steven: Dreamhouse - Gil Rose, conductor; Rinde Eckert (Catch Electric Guitar Quartet; Boston Modern Orchestra Project; Synergy Vocals) [BMOP/sound]
Salieri: Overtures & Stage Music - Thomas Fey, conductor (Mannheimer Mozartorchester) [Haenssler Classic]
Stravinsky: Pulcinella; Symphony In Three Movements; Four Études - Pierre Boulez, conductor (Roxana Constantinescu, Kyle Ketelsen & Nicholas Phan; Chicago Symphony Orchestra) [CSO Resound]
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Berg: Lulu - Antonio Pappano, conductor; Agneta Eichenholz, Jennifer Larmore, Klaus Florian Vogt & Michael Volle; David Groves, producer (Orchestra Of The Royal Opera House) [Opus Arte]
Hasse: Marc' Antonio E Cleopatra - Matthew Dirst, conductor; Jamie Barton & Ava Pine; Keith Weber, producer (Ars Lyrica Houston) [Dorian Sono Luminus]
Saariaho: L'Amour De Loin - Kent Nagano, conductor; Daniel Belcher, Ekaterina Lekhina & Marie-Ange Todorovitch; Martin Sauer, producer (Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin; Rundfunkchor Berlin) [Harmonia Mundi]
Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer - Valery Gergiev, conductor; Evgeny Akimov, Sergei Aleksashkin & Kristina Kapustinskaya; James Mallinson, producer (Orchestra Of The Mariinsky Theatre; Chorus Of The Mariinsky Theatre) [Mariinsky]
Sullivan: Ivanhoe - David Lloyd-Jones, conductor; Neal Davies, Geraldine McGreevy, James Rutherford, Toby Spence & Janice Watson; Brian Pidgeon, producer (BBC National Orchestra Of Wales; Adrian Partington Singers) [Chandos]
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Bach: Cantatas - Nikolaus Harnoncourt, conductor; Erwin Ortner, chorus master (Bernarda Fink, Gerald Finley, Christian Gerhaher, Werner Güra, Julia Kleiter, Christine Schäfer, Anton Scharinger & Kurt Streit; Concentus Musicau Wien; Arnold Schoenberg Chor) [Deutsche Harmonia Mundi]
Baltic Runes - Paul Hillier, conductor (Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir) [Harmonia Mundi]
Haydn: The Creation - René Jacobs, conductor; Hans-Christoph Rademann, choir director (Julia Kleiter, Maximilian Schmitt & Johannes Weisser; Freiburger Barockorchester; RIAS Kammerchor) [Harmonia Mundi]
Martin: Golgotha - Daniel Reuss, conductor (Judith Gauthier, Marianne Beate Kielland, Adrian Thompson, Mattijs Van De Woerd & Konstantin Wolff; Estonian National Symphony Orchestra; Cappella Amsterdam & Estonian Philharmonic Chamber Choir) [Harmonia Mundi]
Verdi: Requiem - Riccardo Muti, conductor; Duain Wolfe, chorus master (Ildar Abdrazakov, Olga Borodina, Barbara Frittoli & Mario Zeffiri; Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Chicago Symphony Chorus) [CSO Resound]
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Daugherty: Deus Ex Machina - Giancarlo Guerrero, conductor; Terrence Wilson (Nashville Symphony) Track from: Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony [Naxos]
Dorman, Avner: Mandolin Concerto - Andrew Cyr, conductor; Avi Avital (Metropolis Ensemble) Track from: Dorman, Avner: Mandolin Concerto; Piccolo Concerto; Concerto Grosso; Piano Concerto [Naxos]
Kletzki: Piano Concerto In D Minor, Op. 22 - Thomas Sanderling, conductor; Joseph Banowetz (Russian Philharmonic Orchestra) Track from: Kletzki: Piano Concerto [Naxos]
Mozart: Piano Concertos Nos. 23 & 24 - Mitsuko Uchida (The Cleveland Orchestra) [Decca]
Porter, Quincy: Concerto For Viola & Orchestra - John McLaughlin Williams, conductor; Eliesha Nelson (Northwest Sinfonia) Track from: Porter, Quincy: Complete Viola Works [Dorian Sono Luminus]
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Chopin: The Nocturnes - Nelson Freire [Decca]
Hamelin: Études - Marc-André Hamelin [Hyperion Records]
Messiaen: Livre Du Saint-Sacrement - Paul Jacobs [Naxos]
Paganini: 24 Caprices - Julia Fischer [Decca]
20th Century Harp Sonatas - Sarah Schuster Ericsson [Dorian Sono Luminus]
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Beethoven: Complete Sonatas For Violin & Piano - Isabelle Faust & Alexander Melnikov [Harmonia Mundi]
Gnattali: Solo & Chamber Works For Guitar - Marc Regnier (Tacy Edwards, Natalia Khoma & Marco Sartor) [Dorian Sono Luminus]
Ligeti: String Quartets Nos. 1 & 2 - Parker Quartet [Naxos]
Porter, Quincy: Complete Viola Works - Eliesha Nelson & John McLaughlin Williams (Douglas Rioth; Northwest Sinfonia) [Dorian Sono Luminus]
Schoenberg: String Quartets Nos. 3 & 4 - Fred Sherry String Quartet (Christopher Oldfather & Rolf Schulte) [Naxos]
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Ceremony And Devotion - Music For The Tudors - Harry Christophers, conductor; The Sixteen [CORO]
Dinastia Borja - Jordi Savall, conductor; Hespèrion XXI & La Capella Reial De Catalunya (Pascal Bertin, Daniele Carnovich, Lior Elmalich, Montserrat Figueras, Driss El Maloumi, Marc Mauillon, Lluís Vilamajó & Furio Zanasi; Pascal Bertin, Daniele Carnovich, Josep Piera & Francisco Rojas) [Alia Vox]
Trondheimsolistene - In Folk Style - Øyvind Gimse & Geir Inge Lotsberg, conductors (Emilia Amper & Gjermund Larsen; TrondheimSolistene) [2L (Lindberg Lyd)]
Victoria: Lamentations Of Jeremiah - Peter Phillips, conductor; The Tallis Scholars [Gimell]
Whitacre, Eric: Choral Music - Noel Edison, conductor; Elora Festival Singers (Carol Bauman & Leslie De'Ath) [Naxos]
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Ombre De Mon Amant - French Baroque Arias - Anne Sofie Von Otter (William Christie; Les Arts Florissants) [Deutsche Grammophon]
Sacrificium - Cecilia Bartoli (Giovanni Antonini; Il Giardino Armonico) [Decca]
Turina: Canto A Sevilla - Lucia Duchonová (Celso Antunes; NDR Radiophilharmonie) [Haenssler Classic]
Vivaldi: Opera Arias - Pyrotechnics - Vivica Genaux (Fabio Biondi; Europa Galante) [Virgin Classics]
Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder - Measha Brueggergosman (Franz Welser-Möst; The Cleveland Orchestra) Track from: Wagner: Wesendonck-Lieder; Preludes & Overtures [Deutsche Grammophon]
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106. Best Classical Contemporary Composition – A Composer's Award. (For a contemporary classical composition composed within the last 25 years, and released for the first time during the Eligibility Year.) Award to the librettist, if applicable.
Daugherty, Michael: Deus Ex Machina - Michael Daugherty (Giancarlo Guerrero) Track from: Daugherty: Metropolis Symphony [Naxos]
Henze, Hans Werner: Appassionatamente Plus - Hans Werner Henze (Stefan Soltesz) Track from: Appassionatamente Plus Lulu-Suite [Cybele Records]
Lindberg, Magnus: Graffiti - Magnus Lindberg (Sakari Oramo) Track from: Lindberg: Graffiti; Seht Die Sonne [Ondine]
Pärt, Arvo: Symphony No. 4 - Arvo Pärt (Esa-Pekka Salonen) Track from: Pärt: Symphony No. 4 [ECM New Series]
Shchedrin, Rodion Konstantinovich: The Enchanted Wanderer - Rodion Konstantinovich Shchedrin (Valery Gergiev) Track from: Shchedrin: The Enchanted Wanderer [Mariinsky]
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Meeting Of The Spirits - Matt Haimovitz (Amaryllis Jarczyk, Jan Jarczyk, John McLaughlin, Dominic Painchaud, Leanna Rutt & Matt Wilson) [Oxingale Records]
Off The Map - The Silk Road Ensemble [World Village]
Roots - My Life, My Song - Jessye Norman (Ira Coleman, Steve Johns, Mike Lovatt, Mark Markham & Martin Williams) [Sony Classical]
Tin, Christopher: Calling All Dawns - Lucas Richman, conductor (Sussan Deyhim, Lia, Kaori Omura, Dulce Pontes, Jia Ruhan, Aoi Tada & Frederica von Stade; Anonymous 4 & Soweto Gospel Choir; Royal Philharmonic Orchestra) [Tin Works Publishing]
Vocabularies - Bobby McFerrin [Emarcy/Universal]
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While I'm happy for those that were nominated, I am especially bummed to see Jennifer Higdon's Violin Concerto with Hilary Hahn absent from this list. Oh well... It's a great work and a very fine recording -- it's a winner in my book... for what that's worth...
Anyway, there they are -- tune in Feb 13th, 2011, to find out who the Grammy Winners are!
- Dick Strawser