Expectations were high. Both Reinbert de Leeuw and Barbara Hannigan were nominated for a Grammy Award 2018. Hannigan competed for Best Classical Solo Vocal Album, with the CD Crazy Girl Crazy, featuring music by Berg, Gershwin & Berio. De Leeuw was nominated in the category Best Classical Compendium with his compilation of all conducted choral and ensemble pieces by György Kurtág.
Hannigan was able to cash her nomination on Sunday 28 January, De Leeuw was less fortunate. The prize for Hannigan is fully deserved, for on her winning cd the soprano not only impresses as a singer, but also as a conductor.
Crazy Girl Crazy opens with a pure and intense interpretation of Berio’s famed Sequenza III. Hereafter we are treated to Alban Berg’s Lulu Suite, played with great understanding of his idiosyncratic mix of atonality and popular music by Ludwig Live.
Last but not least Hannigan and Ludwig Orchestra give a vivid interpretation of Gershwin’s Girl Crazy Suite. It brims with energy, and while Hannigan seductively croons away with jazzy timing, the musicians at times provide jaunty background vocals.
Incidentally, I’d have welcomed a grammy for the immaculate Kurtág edition, which I dubbed ‘historical’ in my review half a year ago. But De Leeuw and his performers were surpassed by All Things Majestic, a cd dedicated to three works by the American composer Jennifer Higdon. ‘A bit disappointing’ De Leeuw said to the Dutch news agency ANP. But the mere nomination alone has given the CD box an enormous boost, so no worries there.
– That the prize eventually went to a portrait-CD of a female composer makes my day…