Classical Grammys: Minnesota wins!

Classical Grammys: Minnesota wins!


norman lebrecht

January 27, 2014

Here are the highlights of the classical awards before the institutional PRs get at them.

The big winner was American composer Maria Schneider, who collected three Grammys for “Winter Morning Walks”. The set was recorded by Dawn Upshaw with the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra.

maria schneider

The Minnesota Orchestra won the Grammy for best orchestral recording with Sibelius’ 1st and 4th symphonies, conducted by Osmo Vänskä on the BIS label. Credit to the musicians, none to the company that tried to starve them for 15 months. Now’s the time for the musicians to demand a rebranding to distance themselves from the lockout. Back to the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra? Great tradition.

Osmo Vänskä commented: “I am absolutely thrilled that this recording of Sibelius Symphonies 1 and 4 – works so close to my heart – has been honoured with a Grammy. I am immensely happy and proud to have been able to achieve this in partnership with my dear and devoted friends at BIS and with the wonderful musicians of the Minnesota Orchestra. It is the greatest honour to be given such an award by our peers – and my sincere thanks go to The Recording Academy for this wonderful recognition.”

Other classical wins: Thomas Ades for best opera recording with The Tempest at the Met.

Roomful of Teeth and Brady Wells won best chamber music performance.

Producer of the year, classical: David Frost

Best choral performance: “Pärt: Adam’s Lament,” Tõnu Kaljuste, conductor

Best classical instrumental solo: “Corigliano: Conjurer – Concerto For Percussionist and String Orchestra,” featuring Evelyn Glennie and the Albany Symphony Orchestra

Best classical compendium: “Hindemith: Violinkonzert; Symphonic Metamorphosis; Konzertmusik,” Christoph Eschenbach, conductor

Best score soundtrack for visual media: “Skyfall,” Thomas Newman, composer


  • The three works on the Ondine CD that won “Best Classical Compendium” were recorded by the same conductor and orchestra in the same venue; granted, it was on three separate occasions a year apart, but this is a radio orchestra (the NDR Sinfonieorchester). it’s a perfectly coherent CD programme — but it is now a “compendium”? Ondine obviously entered it in that category in the hope of some kind of going, but with current market conditions half the CDs on the market will be “compendia” before long or they won’t get made at all. Bloody daft! (It is, BTW, a terrific performance and recording and deserves recognition on its own sake. I put it on a wee while back as I sat down, with heavy heart, to a particularly wearisome task that I had been putting off for ages — and it had me back in a buoyant mood almost instantly.)

    • joel says:

      As far as I know record labels cannot “enter” themselves into any category. The jury decides. Hopefully we see Toccata Classics one day…

  • Pamela Brown says:

    Norman said, “Now’s the time for the musicians to demand a rebranding to distance themselves from the lockout. Back to the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra? Great tradition.”

    I think that’s a good place to start. I hope MOA is open to the idea.

  • Martin Bookspan says:

    The Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra made many memorable recordings, starting with some under its conductor of the 1930s, Eugene Ormandy, and then under such podium stalwarts as Dimitri Mitropoulos and Antal Dorati. The return of the Orchestra to that name would be a return to a hallowed heritage.

  • Amy says:

    One would also hope that whatever conditions conducive to the return of Osmo Vänskä to the podium…are soon to be put into place, and the musicians given an actual role in governance of their ensemble.

    • Pamela Brown says:

      Because of Mr. Vanska’s staunch support of the locked-out players, I can only imagine the dance that is taking place at this time with MOA. I can imagine MOA wants Mr. Vanska back, due to the overwhelming public affection for him and outrage and his having no choice but resign, but on ‘their’ terms. Perhaps the upcoming three weeks of concerts with him at the helm are a ‘test’.

  • Wow, first a Pulitzer Prize for Caroline Shaw and now a Grammy in the same year. How many other composers have done that?

  • NYMike says:

    Vänskä’s return to the MN Orch. would seem to be dependent on his being asked by the board and by CEO Henson’s departure. The Grammy-winning band making the Sibelius record existed before the lockout – not now. Rebuilding will take time.

  • marguerite foxon says:

    Fantastic news about Dawn Upshaw with the Aust Chamber Orchestra recording Schneider’s songs. They are a world class ensemble and she is a world class singer. Dawn will be in Australia singing this program with the ACO shortly.

  • Saul Davis says:

    At the time of the name change to Minnesota Orchestra, many people felt it was a mistake. I think the orchestra may actually do less performing regionally than it used to as the Minneapolis Symphony Orchestra. They have no summer festival home, sad to say. There is no summer-long classical music program in Minnesota. The closest is the one in Door County, Wisconsin.

  • John says:

    Very good news about Hindemith, Midori and Eschenbach receiving a Grammy PH is one whose music simply bites into one and makes one think!

  • Remarkable that in the classical field Grammy’s only went to non-mainstream labels and except for Sibelius all to non-mainstream repertoire. While in the pop it is the oppositie. Mostly Daft Punk and Justin Timberlake. All Sony and some Universal and Warner.