One out of two ain’t bad. The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra and its artistic partner, Patricia Kopatchinskaja, earned a Grammy Award on Sunday for best chamber music small ensemble performance while the Minnesota Orchestra missed out on the prize in another category, for best orchestral performance.
The SPCO and violinist Kopatchinskaja were honored for a recording inspired by Schubert’s “Death and the Maiden.”
“It feels terrific,” Kyu-Young Kim, SPCO artistic director and principal violinist, said Sunday night. “I announced it at intermission at our concert [in Mahtomedi]. The audience went crazy. They gave us a standing ovation.”
Kim was informed by text from an SPCO official about the award, which was announced Sunday afternoon before the Grammys telecast.
While Kim was thrilled at the recognition and humbled by the honor, he was not surprised by the win. “The competition was stiff, but our disc had something special,” he said. “Patricia brought an artistic vision with a new arrangement, and the playing was terrific.”
In his review of the disc, Star Tribune critic Terry Blain said this CD pushes the envelope further than anything in the SPCO’s 40-year recording history.
“Taking her cue from the fatalistic atmosphere of Schubert’s music, Kopatchinskaja separates and surrounds the four movements of the quartet with pieces by other composers, including John Dowland and György Kurtág,” Blain wrote. “These are melancholy and spectral in tone, and refract fascinatingly the experience of Schubert’s hauntingly beautiful music.”
Blain added that the St. Paul players “perform superbly in this hourlong sequence, delivering performances of electrifying precision and exquisite nuance.”
Because of a long-standing commitment in Mahtomedi, the SPCO was unable to send a musician to New York to collect the Grammy. Kopatchinskaja was in Switzerland.
Kim e-mailed Kopatchinskaja on Saturday to see if she wanted to prepare a statement in case they won; she said she was too superstitious to do so. She could not be reached for comment Sunday.
The SPCO previously grabbed a Grammy in 1980 in the same category for Dennis Russell Davies conducting “Copland: Appalachian Spring; Ives: Three Places in New England.”
The Minnesota Orchestra and conductor Osmo Vänskä were nominated this year for best orchestral performance for Mahler’s Fifth Symphony. The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra took the trophy for “Shostakovich 5/Barber Adagio.”