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5 Albums to Watch at the 2020 GRAMMY Awards

Logo for the 2020 GRAMMY Awards, showing a phonograph in a triangle on a white background with text
Courtesy of the Recording Academy

The 2020 GRAMMY Awards air this Sunday night! Here are a few GRAMMY-nominated classical albums we've had our eye on this year.

1. Shaw: Orange / Attacca Quartet

Nominated for: Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance; Best Contemporary Classical Composition

Why we love it: The Attacca Quartet recorded this album in the WGBH Fraser Performance Studio, and our lead engineer, Antonio Oliart Ros, produced the whole thing alongside the quartet and the composer. Aside from that, "Orange" is inventive and warm, piquing our curiosity in, as Shaw said, “a celebration of the simple, immediate, unadorned beauty of a natural, everyday, familiar thing" -- like an orange.


Find this album on ArkivMusic.

2. Marsalis: Violin Concerto, Fiddle Dance Suite / Nicola Benedetti, Cristian Macelaru, Philadelphia Orchestra

Nominated for: Best Classical Instrumental Solo; Best Contemporary Classical Composition

Why we love it: In our Instant Replay: 006, Chris Voss wrote: "Such a cool new album, featuring a violin concerto and a dance suite written for violinist Nicola Benedetti by jazz-master Wynton Marsalis. Both pieces fuse the classical, jazz, and folk worlds into a brilliantly enticing listen, and I highly recommend listening to the whole album once, then twice, then over and over." 

Find this album on ArkivMusic.

3. Songplay / Joyce DiDonato

Nominated for: Best Classical Solo Vocal Album

Why we love it: Here's what DiDonato herself told us in an interview about this album that takes classical songs like Rosa's “Tu lo sai” and Giordani's "Caro mio ben" and gives them a jazz treatment: "Just give this a chance, just listen. Your heart is gonna explode open." There you have it.

Find this album on ArkivMusic.

4. Perpetulum / Third Coast Percussion

Nominated for: Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

Why we love it: In July, Rani Schloss picked a track from this album as her must-listen for the month. She said, "Whenever an album from Third Coast Percussion crosses my desk I can't pop it into the CD player fast enough. This track, written by a member of the ensemble, has everything: shifting textures a la Philip Glass, a hint of the theme from 'Stranger Things,' and a gorgeously-mastered sound that overwhelms you. This whole CD is awesome."

Find this album on ArkivMusic.

5. Rachmaninoff / Hermitage Piano Trio

Nominated for: Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance

Why we love it: It's another of Chris Voss's favorites: "In their debut album, the Hermitage Trio sends us incredible performances of Rachmaninoff’s two 'elegiac' trios - one inspired by a similar trio by his teacher, Tchaikovsky, and one for that same teacher upon his sudden and unexpected death. The trios are tender, dark, brimming with sadness and love, and, I find, utterly impossible not to listen to over and over again. (Incidentally, this album was recorded at Worcester’s beautiful Mechanics Hall.)"

Find this album on ArkivMusic.

Bonus: two more recordings made right here in Boston!

Picker: Fantastic Mr. Fox / BMOP

Nominated for: Best Opera Recording

Why we love it: Sure, opera loves tragedy, but it also can be whimsical and fun -- this is the perfect example of that! Also, our own engineer/producer extraordinaire Antonio Oliart Ros produced this recording, so we may be a little biased, but we think it sounds really darn good.

Charpentier: Les Arts Florissants; Les Plaisirs de Versailles / BEMF

Nominated for: Best Opera Recording

Why we love it: We love BEMF! Every BEMF opera is spectacular, and this is no exception. If you've ever wondered what entertainment the old kings of France used to bring to Versailles, this is the album for you.

Find this album on ArkivMusic.

Find the full list of GRAMMY nominees.

Kendall Todd is the Content Manager for GBH Music.