GRAMMY Classical Music Award Winners, 2011

Although I don't put a lot of stock in Oscars, Emmys, GRAMMYs, and such yearly awards, maybe because I'm not convinced they are anything more than popularity contests, it is probably a good idea at least to inform readers of this year's GRAMMY winners in the Classical Music category for albums released in 2011.

Best Orchestral Performance

Brahms: Symphony No. 4
Gustavo Dudamel, Los Angeles Philharmonic
Deutsche Grammaphon

Bowen: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2
Andrew Davis, BBC Philharmonic

Haydn: Symphonies 104, 88 and 101
Nicholas McGegan, Philharmonia Baroque Orchestra
Philharmonia Baroque Productions

Henze: Symphonies Nos. 3-5
Marek Janowski, Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin

Martinu: The 6 Symphonies
Jirí Belohlávek, BBC Symphony Orchestra
Onyx Classics

Best Opera Recording

Adams: Doctor Atomic
Meredith Arwady, Sasha Cooke, Richard Paul Fink, Gerald Finley, Thomas Glenn & Eric Owens; Jay David Saks, producer; Alan Gilbert, Metropolitan Opera Orchestra; Metropolitan Opera Chorus
Sony Classical

Britten: Billy Budd
John Mark Ainsley, Phillip Ens, Jacques Imbrailo, Darren Jeffery, Iain Paterson, and Matthew Rose; James Whitbourn, producer; Mark Elder, London Philharmonic Orchestra; Glyndebourne Chorus
Opus Arte

Rautavaara: Kaivos
Jaakko Kortekangas, Hannu Niemelä, Johanna Rusanen-Kartano, and Mati Turi; Seppo Siirala, producer; Hannu Lintu, Tampere Philharmonic Orchestra; Kaivos Chorus

Verdi: La Traviata
Joseph Calleja, Renée Fleming, and Thomas Hampson; James Whitbourn, producer; Antonio Pappano, Orchestra of the Royal Opera House; Royal Opera Chorus
Opus Arte

Vivaldi: Ercole Sul Termodonte
Romina Basso, Patrizia Ciofi, Diana Damrau, Joyce DiDonato, Vivica Genaux, Philippe Jaroussky, Topi Lehtipuu, and Rolando Villazón; Daniel Zalay, producer; Fabio Biondi, Europa Galante; Coro Da Camera Santa Cecilia Di Borgo San Lorenzo
Virgin Classics

Best Choral Performance

Light & Gold
Eric Whitacre; Christopher Glynn and Hila Plitmann, The King's Singers, Laudibus; Eric Whitacre, Pavão Quartet, and the Eric Whitacre Singers

Beyond All Mortal Dreams - American A Cappella
Stephen Layton, Choir of Trinity College Cambridge
Hyperion Records

Brahms: Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45
Justin Blackwell, Scott Allen Jarrett, Paul Max Tipton, and Teresa Wakim; James K. Bass, chorus master; Patrick Dupre Quigley, Professional Choral Institute & Seraphic Fire
Seraphic Fire Media

Kjetil Almenning, Nidaros String Quartet; Ensemble 96
2L Lindberg Lyd

The Natural World of Pelle Gudmundsen-Holmgreen
Paul Hillier, Ars Nova Copenhagen
Dacapo Records

Best Small Ensemble Performance

Mackey: Lonely Motel - Music From Slide
Rinde Eckert and Steven Mackey, Eighth Blackbird
Cedille Records

Frank: Hilos
Gabriela Lena Frank, ALIAS Chamber Ensemble

The Kingdoms of Castille
Richard Savino, El Mundo
Sono Luminus

A Seraphic Fire Christmas
Patrick Dupré Quigley, Seraphic Fire
Seraphic Fire Media

Sound the Bells!
The Bay Brass
Harmonia Mundi

Best Classical Instrumental Solo

Schwantner: Concerto For Percussion & Orchestra
Christopher Lamb; Giancarlo Guerrero, Nashville Symphony
Track from: Schwantner: Chasing Light…

Chinese Recorder Concertos - East Meets West
Michala Petri; Lan Shui, Copenhagen Philharmonic
OUR Recordings

Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No. 2 in C Minor, Op. 18; Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini
Yuja Wang; Claudio Abbado, Mahler Chamber Orchestra
Deutsche Grammaphon

Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 3 & 4
Leif Ove Andsnes; Antonio Pappano, London Symphony Orchestra
EMI Classics

Winging It - Piano Music of John Corigliano
Ursula Oppens
Cedille Records

Best Classical Vocal Solo

Diva Divo
Joyce DiDonato; Kazushi Ono, Orchestre De L'Opéra National De Lyon; Choeur De L'Opéra National De Lyon
Virgin Classics

Grieg/Thommessen: Veslemøy Synsk
Marianne Beate Kielland; Nils Anders Mortensen
2L Lindberg Lyd)

Handel: Cleopatra
Natalie Dessay; Emmanuelle Haïm, Le Concert D'Astrée
Virgin Classics

Purcell: O Solitude
Andreas Scholl, Stefano Montanari, Christophe Dumaux, Accademia Bizantina

Three Baroque Tenors
Ian Bostridge; Mark Bennett, Andrew Clarke, Sophie Daneman Alberto Grazzi, Jonathan Gunthorpe, Benjamin Hulett, and Madeline Shaw; Bernard Labadie, The English Concert
EMI Classics

Best Contemporary Classical Composition

Aldridge, Robert: Elmer Gantry
Robert Aldridge and Herschel Garfein

Crumb, George: The Ghosts of Alhambra
George Crumb
Track from: Complete Crumb Edition, Vol. 15
Bridge Records, Inc.

Friedman, Jefferson: String Quartet No. 3
Jefferson Friedman
Track from: Jefferson Friedman: Quartets
New Amsterdam Records

Mackey, Steven: Lonely Motel - Music From Slide
Steven Mackey
Cedille Records

Ruders, Poul: Piano Concerto No. 2
Poul Ruders
Track from: Music of Poul Ruders, Vol. 6
Bridge Records, Inc.

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Meet the Staff

Meet the Staff
John J. Puccio, Editor, Publisher, Reviewer

Understand, I'm just an everyday guy reacting to something I love. And I've been doing it for a very long time, my appreciation for classical music starting with the musical excerpts on The Big John and Sparkie radio show in the early Fifties and the purchase of my first recording, The 101 Strings Play the Classics, around 1956. In the late Sixties I began teaching high school English and Film Studies as well as becoming interested in hi-fi, my audio ambitions graduating me from a pair of AR-3 speakers to the Fulton J's recommended by The Stereophile's J. Gordon Holt. In the early Seventies, I began writing for a number of audio magazines, including Audio Excellence, Audio Forum, The Boston Audio Society Speaker, The American Record Guide, and from 1976 until 2008, The $ensible Sound, for which I served as Classical Music Editor.

Today, I'm retired from teaching and use a pair of bi-amped VMPS RM40s loudspeakers for my listening. In addition to writing the Classical Candor blog, I served as the Movie Review Editor for the Web site Movie Metropolis (formerly DVDTown) from 1997-2013. Music and movies. Life couldn't be better.
Karl W. Nehring, Contributing Reviewer

For more than 20 years I was the editor ofThe $ensible Soundmagazine and a regular contributor to its classical review pages. I would not presume to present myself as some sort of expert on music, but I have a deep love for and appreciation of many types of music, "classical" especially, and have listened to thousands of recordings over the years, many of which still line the walls of my listening room (and occasionally spill onto the furniture and floor, much to the chagrin of my long-suffering wife). I have always taken the approach as a reviewer that what I am trying to do is simply to point out to readers that I have come across a recording that I have found of interest, a recording that I think they might appreciate my having pointed out to them. I suppose that sounds a bit simple-minded, but I know I appreciate reading reviews by others that do the same for me -- point out recordings that I think I might enjoy.

For readers who might be wondering about what kind of system I am using to do my listening, I should probably point out that I do a LOT of music listening and employ a variety of means to do so in a variety of environments, as I would imagine many music lovers also do. Starting at the more grandiose end of the scale, the system in which I do my most serious listening comprises an Onkyo C-7030 CD player, Legacy Audio StreamLine preamplifier, Legacy Audio PowerBloc2 amplifier, and a pair of Legacy Audio Focus SE speakers augmented by a Legacy Point One subwoofer. I also do a lot of listening while driving in my 2016 Acura RDX with its nice-sounding ELS Studio sound system through which I play CDs (the ones I especially like I rip to the Acura's hard drive so that I can listen to them whenever I want) or stream music through the system using my LG G7 ThinQ cell phone, which features surprisingly sophisticated audio circuitry. For more casual listening at home when I am not in my listening room, I often stream music through the phone into a Vizio soundbar system that has remarkably nice sound for such a diminutive physical presence. And finally, at the least grandiose end of the scale, I have an Ultimate Ears Wonderboom Bluetooth speaker for those occasions where I am somewhere by myself without a sound system but in desperate need of a musical fix. I just can't imagine life without music and I am humbly grateful for the technology that enables us to enjoy it in so many wonderful ways.
Bryan Geyer, Technical Analyst

I initially embraced classical music in 1954 when I mistuned my car radio and heard the Heifetz recording of Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto. That inspired me to board the new "hi-fi" DIY bandwagon. In 1957 I joined one of the pioneer semiconductor makers and spent the next 32 years marketing transistors and microcircuits to military contractors. Home audio DIY projects remained a personal passion until 1989 when we created our own new photography equipment company. I later (2012) revived my interest in two channel audio when we "downsized" our life and determined that mini-monitors + paired subwoofers were a great way to mate fine music with the space constraints of condo living.

Visitors that view my technical papers on this site may wonder why they appear here, rather than on a site that features audio equipment reviews. My reason is that I tried the latter, and prefer to publish for people who actually want to listen to music; not to equipment. My focus is in describing what's technically beneficial to assure that the sound of the system will accurately replicate the source input signal (i. e. exhibit high accuracy) without inordinate cost and complexity. Conversely, most of the audiophiles of today strive to achieve sound that's euphonic, i.e. be personally satisfying. In essence, audiophiles seek sound that's consistent with their desire; the music is simply a test signal.

Mission Statement

It is the goal of Classical Candor to promote the enjoyment of classical music. Other forms of music come and go--minuets, waltzes, ragtime, blues, jazz, bebop, country-western, rock-'n'-roll, heavy metal, rap, and the rest--but classical music has been around for hundreds of years and will continue to be around for hundreds more. It's no accident that every major city in the world has one or more symphony orchestras.

When I was young, I heard it said that only intellectuals could appreciate classical music, that it required dedicated concentration to appreciate. Nonsense. I'm no intellectual, and I've always loved classical music. Anyone who's ever seen and enjoyed Disney's Fantasia or a Looney Tunes cartoon playing Rossini's William Tell Overture or Liszt's Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2 can attest to the power and joy of classical music, and that's just about everybody.

So, if Classical Candor can expand one's awareness of classical music and bring more joy to one's life, more power to it. It's done its job. --John J. Puccio

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"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa

"Their Master's Voice" by Michael Sowa