Thursday, May 22, 2008

What is it these days?

Are record companies getting smarter or are performers being given freer reins over their recordings? Pierre-Laurent Aimard's Deutsche Grammophon début was Bach's Kunst der Fuge - not exactly light after-dinner fare. Hilary Hahn increased the Schoenberg Violin Concerto discography by 25% when her disc of that and the Sibelius concerto dropped. These are major-label releases of works with a lot of publicity, and I wouldn't expect either release to be backed by the labels as strongly as they have been - especially considering the eldritch necromancy being practiced on Karajan's discography for the umpteenth time.

I am not a big fan of the cult of performers - conductors, soloists, and groups alike. The composer should be the primary focus (part, I am sure, of the nausea that rolls over me when I see a Karajan anniversary advertisement), not the performer. The cult of performer, however, is a clever and effective marketing tool. It seems, though, that some artists are using it as a platform to perform and promote valuable and intelligent music that is underrepresented in the catalogs and underestimated by the mainstream musical establishment.

I can live with that.