The story I broke in my Evening Standard column yesterday that the Decca record label is about to be shut down has kept me in phone calls and emails all day.
Producers phoned from London, Paris and Vienna to question the motives of Bogdan Roscic, the not-terribly-active Decca chief who jumped to a non-job in Sony the moment he heard his label was for the scrapheap. A Universal insider called to suggest that Chris Roberts, president of classical and jazz, may himself be heading for termination.
And the production team behind Julia Fischer’s new album protested that, while they have no idea what it takes to create a Decca sound they are, at Polyhymnia, the last of the Philips studio team. Sic transit gloria mundi – or, there goes another one. And just in case you have forgotten, it is all predicted here.
One of the day’s most interesting comments came from Rainer Mockert who, after 20 years in feature films, became involved in producing classical music DVDs.
Here, in part, is what Rainer says about the record bosses:
I was shocked at the level of some people in the top management of the former important labels. I recognised that these people think and act only in short term profit, based on a few artists who are very good but not good enough on a long term. It reminded me of discussions with brokers on Wall Street, when I produced the only feature of Peter Sellars during a small recession in the 1990s. Their only interest was how to secure their BMW’s or second/third apartments, by handling other people’s money. The black humor line from this time I never forget: Your money is not lost it only belongs to somebody else. This is true again today and has reached the classic music world.
I am not worried about classic music and what is happening right now is probably refreshing and renewing the business. The big record companies totally forgot to support talent, they only invested in shooting stars who are forgotten in a few
I am not worried about the violinist from Munich you are talking about because she is not only very good she seems also very secure about herself and what is important for her as an performer and artist.
You might ask, why I am very positive about classic music. Since I am back in this world I saw during the last 18 months some brilliant stagings of operas, which are attracting younger audiences. I left the music world after I produced the Mozart/DaPonte/Sellars cycle and Peter’s GIULIO CESARE in the early 90s because everybody started to copy him like 10 years earlier Chereau ( I was a young line producer on this RING at UNITEL). Peter was for sure also influenced by Jonathan Miller’s RIGOLETTO at the ENO, but he worked out his own way.
I started 14 months ago to produce live recordings for dvd and tv of operas which were never done before or very seldom or very different to existing ones. We are just finishing the postproduction of the Weimar RING. Not a staging like most of the other 10 RING’s I saw since the Chereau RING, which very often looked like Cirque du Soleil productions.