The complete classical Grammys – yes, she’s won again

The complete classical Grammys – yes, she’s won again


norman lebrecht

February 06, 2023

Far from the madding crowd of TV, these awards were mailed out:

Producer of the Year, Classical
Judith Sherman

Best Orchestral Performance
“Works by Florence Price, Jessie Montgomery, Valerie Coleman,” Michael Repper, conductor (New York Youth Symphony)

Best Opera Recording
“Blanchard: Fire Shut Up in My Bones,” Yannick Nézet-Séguin, conductor; Angel Blue, Will Liverman, Latonia Moore and Walter Russell III; David Frost, producer (The Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; The Metropolitan Opera Chorus)

Best Choral Performance
“Born,” Donald Nally, conductor (Dominic German, Maren Montalbano, Rebecca Myers and James Reese; The Crossing)

Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance
“Shaw: Evergreen,” Attacca Quartet

Best Classical Instrumental Solo
“Letters for the Future,” Time for Three; Xian Zhang, conductor (The Philadelphia Orchestra)

Best Classical Solo Vocal Album
“Voice of Nature: The Anthropocene,” Renée Fleming, soloist; Yannick Nézet-Séguin, pianist

Best Classical Compendium
“An Adoption Story,” Starr Parodi and Kitt Wakeley; Jeff Fair, Starr Parodi and Kitt Wakeley, producers

Best Contemporary Classical Composition
“Puts: Contact,” Kevin Puts, composer (Xian Zhang, Time for Three and the Philadelphia Orchestra)

Best Engineered Album, Classical
“Bates: Philharmonia Fantastique — The Making of the Orchestra,” Shawn Murphy, Charlie Post and Gary Rydstrom, engineers; Michael Romanowski, mastering engineer (Edwin Outwater and Chicago Symphony Orchestra)


  • Paul Sekhri says:

    And so well deserved for Renée – and all the winners!

  • Tamino says:

    NY Youth Symphony – Best orchestra performance? Certainly a wonderful program and educational activity. But better than the Berlin Phil performance and the other competitors? LOL actually.

    Couldn’t they find them another price, rather than bending the word “best” to a synonym for woke and US-centric, damaging the Grammy’s reputation in the process?

    Grammys must watch out to not get lost in the current woke counter position of the Zeitgeist pendulum, swinging to an antagonistic extreme position before (hopefully) returning to the saner middle.

    • Brian says:

      Anyone who uses the complaint “woke” should probably find something legitimate to complain about. It’s as overdone as most of these awards shows.

      • Tamino says:

        It’s totally legit, to complain about “best” being distorted to “pleasing the Zeitgeist ideology”. Unless you define Excellence as merely an ideology as well. Sure, possible, but where are we heading then as a professional community?

    • MWnyc says:

      You listened to all the nominated recordings?

  • Plush says:

    Nominees cannot compete against corporate singer, Renée

  • Larry L. Lash says:

    NY Times: “With her latest wins, Beyoncé surpassed Georg Solti, the Hungarian-born classical conductor who died in 1997 and had long held the title of the most career wins by any artist”.

    Wow: now I really have to listen to her “Ring” Cycle.

    I honestly cannot understand why anyone takes this farce seriously or devotes so many column inches to it.

    I worked for 12 years at one of the world’s largest record companies, which has since been absorbed by one of the disgustingly hung conglomerates now in control (back in the 1980s a colleague predicted there would soon be only one record company, called Omnivox AG).

    In my first weeks, HR sent me an application for membership in the Country Music Association, to be filled-out and returned to HR (anyone could join – and vote – for a small membership fee). A few weeks later, I received my membership card along with a memo instructing me to sign the ballot for the Country Music Awards when it arrived in the post but nothing else: forward the blank, signed ballot to the company’s Country/Western division in Nashville, so they could vote for all the company’s artists.

    The Grammys, where membership with voting rights requires a certain number of verifiable credits in at least one creative field, were even more of a joke.

    I legitimately earned membership in NARAS (National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, now called The Recording Academy) as a producer, art director, and author of liner notes; I paid my own annual dues, and voted for those I felt deserving of recognition.

    But I noticed a disturbing trend: as I looked over the credits of the hundreds of albums released by the company every year, I saw names of members of other employees in non-creative jobs – accountants and lawyers! – credited with art direction, liner notes and other creative categories. This allowed the company to purchase NARAS memberships – and Grammy votes – by faking album credits.

    I let my membership lapse after I left the industry in the 1990s.

    • Nina says:

      Very interesting information, thank you. But companies (“professional members”) don’t vote, voting is for “voting members” only. But Grammys is a money, both – for big labels and indie artists of different genres. I prefer to take a look at the long-listed artists. Iranian composer Mehdi Rajabian with his amazing classical-contemporary album (with participating of Grammy nominees and winners) didn’t even get a nomination. Why? I guess there was not enough paid promotion because of he’s “just” an artist with artists who support him, but not a rich man to pay for FYCs promos. And, yes, he’s not living in the US.

  • Matt says:

    An anyone here explain how a trio (Time for Three) can win the “Best Classical Instrumental SOLO” category?

    • Tamino says:

      Strange indeed, since it’s unprecedented to nominate anybody but soloists (and accompanying conductors if applicable) in that category.
      Why not nominate them in the ‘Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance instead, seems more fitting?
      Well apparently they have good friends in the the Academy.

    • Nina says:

      Matt, I have the same question. But there are commercial commercial classical recordings mostly than great concepts. Take a look at An Vedi’s “ConTempoRary Violin”, fantastic album.

    • MWnyc says:

      Not that I agree with this reasoning, but —

      When the Recording Category decided, in 2011-12, to consolidate some categories because it was felt that too many awards were being handed out and the ceremony was getting too long, —

      — the Best Instrumental Soloist(s) Performance (with orchestra) and Best Instrumental Soloist Performance (without orchestra) categories were combined into the Best Classical Instrumental Solo category.

      “Letters for the Future”, this year’s winner, is a recording of two concertos written for Time for Three: Kevin Puts’s “Contact” (which also won Best Contemporary Classical Composition) and Jennifer Higdon’s “Concerto 4-3” from 2007-08.

      I think it’s just happenstance that “Letters for the Future” was the only concerto recording nominated in that category this year; if there had been others, the win might not have seemed quite so odd.

  • Jobim75 says:

    So disappointed Yannick or Philadelphia Orchestra didn’t get the best producer award…. Classical music isn’t doing too well….

  • Ernest says:

    Geez, the winners are all Americans. How quaint!

  • Just a Member of the Audience says:

    Best Contemporary Classical Composition:
    “Contact” is terrific

  • sonicsinfonia says:

    Meaningless for classical music. Almost exclusively US performers get shortlisted and voted for by mostly only US members. That’s how a youth orchestra beats every major orchestra in the world. Worked for a major European artist who got nominated and won most Euro/UK awards for the recording but no one in US knew the name.

    • MWnyc says:

      The Recording Academy is a US body. For the Edison Award, mostly Dutch performers get shortlisted and are voted for by Dutch members, correct? For the Victoires de la musique classique, French performers get shortlisted and voted for by French members, n’est-ce pas?

  • Sue Sonata Form says:

    Do these awards hold any currency at all for classical music? I doubt it.

    • MWnyc says:

      For the years and decades during which Solti and the Chicago Symphony and Robert Shaw and the Atlanta Symphony Chorus and/or Orchestra won every time they were nominated, no, they held no credibility in the classical music world. Not that those aren’t good musicians, but they won every damn time and there was clearly bloc voting going on.

      Over the years since Solti and Shaw died and classical Grammy Awards have been spread around more evenly, yes, they have gained some credibility — though still not as much as, say, the Gramophone Awards.

  • sabrinensis says:

    There is no doubt at all that the classical Grammys have been hollowed out by a progressive, “woke” agenda. The process itself has been purposely weakened by tweaks made during COVID lockdowns. The classical committee doesn’t even meet in person anymore. It’s a disgrace. Indeed, NYYS vs. Berlin Phil. Really?

  • Maria says:

    Seems they’re all or mostly American!

  • Harry Collier says:

    Move on, people. Nothing to see or listen to here.

  • Robert Holmén says:

    I shall be curious to hear if these wins produce a bump in sales for any of these recordings or bookings for the artists… the primary reason these awards are given out