The San Francisco Symphony, led by Michael Tilson Thomas, won the Grammy for Best Orchestral Performance on Sunday for its album of John Adams's Harmonielehre and Short Ride in a Fast Machine.
The orchestra beat out a Sibelius collection from the Minnesota Orchestra, which had been considered a sentimental favorite because of a bitter labor dispute that has delayed the group's season for four months.
San Francisco has been on something of a roll lately. The Adams recording, released on its house SFS Media label, marks the ensemble's fifth Grammy Award in the best orchestral category and 15th Grammy overall (seven of which went to its recent Mahler cycle).
The classical awards were given out in a pre-telecast ceremony streamed live on Grammy.com.
The Metropolitan Opera won the Grammy for Best Opera Recording, for a DVD of the Robert Lepage production of Wagner's Ring Cycle. Although the production has received decidedly mixed reviews from critics and audiences, the five-disc set took top honors in a highly competitive category.
The set's cast includes Hans-Peter König, Jay Hunter Morris, Bryn Terfel and Deborah Voigt, conducted by James Levine and Fabio Luisi.
Having performed on the live webcast, the Chicago new-music group Eighth Blackbird took the Grammy for Best Chamber Music/Small Ensemble Performance for its album "Meanwhile." It features works by Missy Mazzoli, Thomas Adès, Philip Glass, Philippe Hurel and Stephen Hartke, the latter of whom wrote the title track.
Hartke's Meanwhile also received the Grammy for Best Contemporary Classical Composition. In receiving the award, the composer joked, "I didn't write that," referring to a smooth jazz tune that played as he took the stage.
Soprano Renée Fleming's "Poèmes," a collection of French repertoire, received the award for Best Classical Vocal Solo, an album that featured the conducting tag team of Alan Gilbert and Seiji Ozawa. The award for Best Instrumental Solo went to violist Kim Kashkashian for her collection of works by Kurtág & Ligeti.
The Kansas City Chorale conducted by Charles Bruffy took the Grammy for Best Choral Performance, for their album, "Life & Breath: Choral Works By René Clausen." The recording also won a Grammy for Best Engineered Album, Classical.
The classical Producer of the Year award went to a newcomer, Blanton Alspaugh, for his work on seven albums including the Clausen set. And the award for Best Engineered Album in the non-classical category went to the Goat Rodeo Sessions, featuring Yo-Yo Ma, Stuart Duncan, Edgar Meyer and Chris Thile.