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The 54th Grammy Awards presentations ran a little shorter this year following the culling of dozens of categories – including Best Classical Album and Best Classical Crossover Album – across all genres. Even so, the stakes were as high as ever in the classical department, with some big-name artists vying for a trophy.
The energetic Venezuelan maestro Gustavo Dudamel and the LA Philharmonic took out top honours for Best Orchestral Album – interestingly, for a download-only release of Brahms Symphony No 4, not available on CD.
A few tipped-to-win types missed out on the gold, perhaps most surprisingly Yuja Wang for her dazzling Rach 2 with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Claudio Abbado (the winner in the Best Solo Instrumental category was something of a wild card in Schwantner's Percussion Concerto). If Antonio Pappano was disappointed that the Best Opera Recording GRAMMY eluded his ROH La Traviata, he may at least take comfort in his recent knighthood.
One doesn't usually feel sorry for the likes of Natalie Dessay and Andreas Scholl, but they did have Joyce DiDonato to compete with in the Vocal Solo category. The velvet-voiced mezzo gave a pre-Awards performance at the Los Angeles Convention Centre, a short stroll from the Staples Centre where the GRAMMY ceremony and telecast was held. When DiDonato accepted her GRAMMY for the gender-bending album Diva Divo, she thanked the audience for letting “an opera girl come here” and cited music education as a vital issue in a "war on the arts".
Also on the vocal music front, a cappella heartthrob Eric Whitacre was the "no-surprises-there" winner for Best Choral Performance.
The classical winners and nominees are revealed in the pages that follow. What would you have picked for Best Classical Album if the broad category still existed?
Best Orchestral Performance
Brahms Symphony No 4
Los Angeles Philharmonic / Gustavo Dudamel
Bowen Symphonies Nos 1–2
BBC Philharmonic / Andrew Davis
Haydn Symphonies 104, 88 & 101
Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra / Nicholas McGegan
Henze Symphonies Nos 3-5
Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin / Marek Janowski
Martinu The 6 Symphonies
BBC Symphony Orchestra / Jirí Belohlávek