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55th Annual Grammy Music Award Nominees for Best Orchestral Performance (2013)

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Every year since 1959, a conductor and his or her orchestra has been awarded a golden gramophone for their outstanding orchestral performance. And even though the title of the Grammy award has changed throughout the years, the caliber of the nominees has not. 2013's nominees include performances by the San Francisco Symphony, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Oregon Symphony, London Symphony Orchestra, and Minnesota Orchestra. This is the Oregon Symphony's third nomination of the year, with its other two nominations earned for Best Engineered Album and Producer of the Year. See the full list of Classical Grammy Nominees.

1. Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride in a Fast Machine

Adams: Harmonielehre & Short Ride in a Fast Machine
SFS Media
John Adams' Harmonielehre was first performed in 1985. It was commissioned as part of the Meet the Composer Orchestra residency program and funded by Exxon Corporation, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. This strange piece of music evokes the music of Mahler, Schoenberg, Wagner, Sibelius, and Debussy all wrapped into one exciting, post-modern neo-Romantic minimalist package. With its insane rhythmic textures and harmonies, it's hard not to imagine the orchestral members finishing the piece looking like they just stuck their fingers in a light socket - especially combined with Short Ride in a Fast Machine, a piece inspired by a fast, stomach churning ride in a Lamborghini. All in all, this performance by Michael Tilson Thomas and the San Francisco Orchestra is out of this world.

2. Mahler: Symphony No. 1

Mahler: Symphony No. 1
Channel Classics
In a sea of nearly unlimited Mahler symphony recordings, what's one more? Well, Ivan Fischer and the Budapest Festival Orchestra attempt to recreate and capture the magic of Mahler's first symphony, and that they did. Performed with scrupulous precision, emotional clairvoyance and brevity, and effortless musicianship, every instrument's voice can be heard and understood. It's absolutely captivating to hear each musical part, as they often go without notice. This is without a doubt a performance worth adding to your classical music collection.

3. Music For A Time Of War

Music for a Time of War - Carlos Kalmar
PentaTone
Under the direction of conductor Carlos Kalmar, the Oregon Symphony performed four energetic, war-inspired classical pieces that include Charles Ives' The Unanswered Question, John Adams' The Wound-Dresser, Benjamin Britten's Sinfonia da Requiem, and Ralph Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 4. Music for a Time of War is the first recording by the Oregon Symphony in eight years. The engineer's at a Classics recorded the album in surround sound format called "Super Audio." So for those of you with surround sound and a super audio CD player, you will be able to enjoy this album in its truest form.

4. Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances

Rachmaninov: Symphonic Dances
Lso Live
Here is a must-have recording of two excellent pieces of Russian music: Rachmaninov's Symphonic Dances and Stravinsky's Symphony in Three Movements. Conductor, Valery Gergiev takes the superb London Symphony Orchestra on an incredibly nuanced and thoughtful journey through these provoking works. Performed with exquisite craftsmanship, Gergiev and the LSO reinvigorate Rachmaninov's and Stravinsky's heavily orchestrated scores, giving us listeners a new, exciting, and profound sonic experience.

5. Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5

Sibelius: Symphonies Nos. 2 & 5
BIS
As time progresses and technology improves with each passing day, orchestra recordings are only going to get better and better. It's hard to see how they can improve, especially after listing to the Minnesota Orchestra's performance of Sibelius' Symphonies 2 and 5 under the direction of Osmo Vanska. Just like Mahler's Symphony No. 1 performance listed above, each and every orchestral part can be heard. And let me tell you, each part is played magnificently and we listeners get to benefit greatly.

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