Thursday, February 4, 2010

Classical Grammys

Woah, record industry - bad move holding the Grammys mere hours after the Nereffid's Guide Awards. They're just so anti-climactic, you know?
Here, take a look at this year's winners and nominees.
Who the hell chooses these things? Oh, I'm being mean, I know. It's fascinating, though, to compare the Grammys with my version of What The Critics Think. The Best Classical Album was MTT's Mahler 8, which got positive reviews but nothing like the reception that my Recording of the Year, the Alsop Bernstein Mass, got. As for the other 3 nominees, the Shostakovich won my Opera award, Levine's Ravel got a few very good reviews but didn't make it onto the long list, and the Naxos Ravel L'enfant... was absolutely nowhere (which is to say, not a single reviewer thought it was very good).
Best Orchestra Performance? The Szymanowski very nearly made runner-up for me, and Zander's Bruckner 5 was the only other one you could call a contender.
Best Opera? The Shostakovich, obviously. Daniel Harding's Billy Budd was too old for inclusion this year but I think might have done well last year. I don't recall seeing reviews for the others.
And so it goes... some Nereffid Award contenders here and there, but also quite a few that made no impression at all. Maybe I'm just speaking from inside a coccoon, but the Grammy list seems rather arbitrary - almost as if the nomination process involved getting a big bag of CDs and picking a handful at random. This sort of vagueness is reinforced by the Best Small Ensemble Performance award, where voters had to decide between, for example, Vivaldi concertos and Josquin masses. Huh? Sure, any of us could pick a favourite, but how can you actually compare? That would be like the worst game of Top Trumps ever.

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