Sunday, February 12, 2006

Soli Deo Gloria off the Grammy Awards radar

How on earth did Sir John Eliot Gardiner and the Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists miss out on even a nomination, yet alone a Grammy award, for their recording of Bach's Cantatas BWV 167, 7, 30, 75, 20 & 39? After all it is not just me singing its praises, it did win the respected Record of the Year Award at the 2005 Gramophone Awards. But perhaps this musician run label was too threatening for the Grammy Recording Academy which comprises professionals with creative or technical credits on six or more commercially released tracks - i.e. typically corporate record company personnel.

But the good news is that Johann Sebastian Bach did get a look in at the Grammys. The Bach Cantatas (BWV 566.-9, BWV 15810.-14 and BWV82) with Thomas Quasthoff won the award for Best Classical Vocal Performance. But then of course it was released by Deutsche Grammophon who are part of Universal Music, and are the biggest record company in the world with a 25.5% market share. Now Deutsche Grammophon also happens to be the company that decided not to release John Eliot Gardiner's Bach Cantatas, and prompted the formation of SDG. Meanwhile Universal owns Island Records, which is U2's record label. And, by sheer coincidence, U2 won five Grammys this year including song of the year and album of the year ...

Image credit - SDG
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If you enjoyed this post take An Overgrown Path to Soli Deo Gloria

5 comments:

M. C- said...

I can't speak for the SDG recordings, and I certainly don't dispute the block voting at major labels. But it does seem remiss not to mention that, amazingly, just under half of the classical awards went to non-major labels. DG, BMG, and EMI only claimed 6 of the 13, with Naxos, Telarc, and LSO's own label picking up the others (which happen to include Best Classical Album).

Pliable said...

Interesting point MC. But I wouldn't categorise Naxos as 'non-major'.

They do a great job of positioning themselves as the underdogs, but as I pointed out in Music-like-water
they are very much a global force with a dominant share of classical CD sales in most major markets worldwide as the following figures show:

UK - 15%, Finland - 40%, Sweden - 50%, Norway - 50%, Denmark -30%, Canada - 25%, Greece - 45%, South Africa - 45%, Spain - 20% and Germany - 20%.

In the United States, Soundscan lists Naxos as the leading independent classical music label.

M. C- said...

i think we are making the same point, but from different angles. naxos has indeed become a major influence within classical cd sales, but the label is still 'independent', as in, not supported by the Universal Music or Warner Music machines. in other words, when it comes to grammy voting blocks, naxos is not competing with the same gunpower as what i'm calling the majors... and yet they came away with 4 awards anyway.

Anonymous said...

Gardiner didn't get a nod because it was good, not great. There was nothing corporate about the decision, as labels are not allowed to shill for their product. If they do they will be banned as Bridge records was last year. Believe me, I know. It's fair to say the the Classical Grammys are the fairest, truest ones awarded by the academy. We all know that the pop awards are strictly a popularity contest. After all, have you actually heard Kanye West? It's just AWFUL! At least mariah used to be able to sing.

Pliable said...

Anonymous said: Gardiner didn't get a nod because it was good, not great.

The Gramophone said: This is a magnificent achievement that illustrates how Gardiner's independence gives him an increased capacity to reinvigorate our recording collections for years to come.