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Culture

A German's Second Grammy

Classical singer Thomas Quasthoff won his second Grammy award for best classical vocal performance on Sunday. DW-RADIO's Jennifer Macey talked with the bass-baritone about his success.

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Quasthoff's performances often move audiences to tears.

Congratulations on the award. Did it come as a surprise?

Every winning of an award is of course a surprise, but I don’t put so much attention on it. It’s nice that I won, but there are other things, I must say, that were even more important: My new production of “Parsifal” at Vienna State Opera in April and the next concert. I’m flying from New York to Vienna to have a Mahler concert with Seiji Ozawa and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, so there are a lot of nice things happening.

This is your second Grammy and another in a long list of accolades. Is it still exciting to receive such an award?

I don’t know. For the American market it’s a really important thing – it’s like an Oscar for music. But I have a lot to do and my invitations here in the States are going to 2006 and 2007. It will not change my schedule in any way because I have to definitely not overload my schedule after winning this award. But it’s a kind of honor for serious work. I am very happy because it’s for (music label) Deutsche Grammophon, because they helped me a lot in doing what I love to do and that’s very nice.

You’ve won this Grammy for a CD – Songs from Schubert – with the mezzosoprano Anne Sofie von Otter and the European Chamber Orchestra. Can you tell us more about the recording?

It was in Paris, it was in the cité de la musique. It was two concerts with Claudio Abbado and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe. It was a wonderful experience – I love to work with Claudio Abbado very much, he’s a wonderful human being and a wonderful musician and I’m very honored and very happy that Deutsche Grammophon gives me these kinds of opportunities of music making.

You’re very well known here in Germany, but overseas, you’re garnering a massive following. What is the reception like overseas?

If you sing well, most of the time the reviews are really good and I have some very prestigious invitations now. I’m singing in November in the new Disney hall in Los Angeles, three concerts with Los Angeles Philharmonic, and I’m doing a jazz concert over there, so its really a very exciting and nice thing. It’s very nice to be part of this level of music making because you really get the opportunity to play together with incredible musicians like Riccardo Muti, like Simon Rattle like Daniel Barenboim and Lorin Maazel, which is very exciting. I started in little church concerts and now to do this, with the best orchestras in the world, is really very, very special for me.