main: June 2007 Archives
If the new album by Myleene Klass had arrived a couple of days sooner, it might just have made the cut into my Radio 3 programme tomorrow on the worst classical records ever made.
The object of the exercise is to flog chunks of classical warhorses to a putative young audience out there. The bleeding chunks have nothing to do with the face on the cover, or with each other.
The unsynced promo video on amazon does nothing to suggest Myleene is playing at all.
The project has split EMI - people in the international classics division say, 'it's nothing to do with us, just the UK company' - and has touched a new depth of cynicism in classical marketing.
Ms Klass, with whom I crossed lances on the BBC's Today progamme, is a perfectly agreeable local celebrity who made her name on reality TV and in a girl band. She now DJs on Classic FM and tells us 'I have been a classical pianist since I was four years old'.
And I'm the next Dinu Lipatti.
A farmer's wife on BBC's Newsnight was complaining bitterly the other night about the Blair government's bias against the countryside. Not only had it banned fox-hunting and bungled compensation for the mad cow and foot-and-mouth disasters, it was now refusing to grant subsidy to celebrate Edward Elgar's 150th anniversary. This made it anti-rural and unpatriotic.
Interesting thought. For the past two months the Daily Telegraph has been whipping up an editorial froth on an almost daily basis about the greatness of our national composer. It has argued, with more heat than light, that Elgar ranks among the most important composers that ever lived and is deserving of the biggest imaginable birthday fest. Some of the Telegraph's terriers have come nipping at my ankles for daring to suggest on the BBC and in print that Elgar is, apart from three undeniable masterpieces, of little consequence to the modern world. He was reactionary in every way, innovated very little and, apart from breaking England's musical drought, means little to other people - proof of which can be found in the stern silence with which his anniversary year is being greeted in Scotland, Wales and Ireland.
Now, along comes our country spokeswoman and confirms my point. Elgar, in her view, is an emblem of rural England - as Thomas Koschat is of Austrian Carinthia, for instance, and Hugo Alfven (if I'm not mistaken) of Swedish Dalarna.
I couldn't agree with her more, but where does that leave the http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2007/06/02/do0207.xml, ">Telegraph jingoists, shouting vainly that Elgar is the greatest, when the world simply does not want to know?
Congratulations to Alain Levy for walking away from EMI with £4.6 million - that's nine million greenbacks in America - in severance pay. That's his reward for leading the company to a £246 million annual loss and into the hands of equity aliens who will strip EMI of whatever remains of its artistic motivation.
In the bad old days, Alain used to attack me for doing down the classical record industry. His payoff represents five years' production budget for a mid-sized label like Hyperion. I wonder which of us was doing down the business and which of us was trying to save it from lunacy.
Universal, the corporate parent of Decca and Deutsche Grammophon, has just appointed a new V-P in its so-called 'core' classical division - as distinct from the peel, pips and wrapping. She is Melanne Mueller, co-founder of Avie Records, an independent umbrella label that packages and distributes self-produced records by such as the San Francisco and Liverpool orchestras, the Rumanian pianist Luiza Borac and the Brook Street Band.
Melanne, with her partner Simon Foster, has done a brilliant job at maintaining artistic integrity and obtaining public attention for a steady flow of serious music, something Universal has long forgotten on both counts how to do. That's presumably why she has been hired - not so much to restore integrity in a corporate behemoth as to raise production values and publicity.
At much the same time, SonyBMG which has been classically dormant for a year, has named Chris Craker to head a new International Repertoire Centre. Chris, a studio producer with some 400 CDs to his name, set up two small labels, Black Box and Onyx, both noted for a distinctive artistic sensibility and high performance. Chris tells me he is working on a schedule of 200 new releases for SonyBMG.
So does this mean resurrection at two defunct majors? Hardly. Whatever the good intentions of Melanne and Chris, and I have no reason to doubt them, they are entering an environment where marginal arts like classical music can get shut down on an overnight whim, as happened last year at SonyBMG and Warner. With overheads of huge executive salaries and grotesque infrastructures, classical records can never pay their way in the glass tower.
My guess is that Melanne and Chris will do their best, but they won't be there long.
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Terry Teachout on the arts in New York City
Andrew Taylor on the business of arts & culture
rock culture approximately
Laura Collins-Hughes on arts, culture and coverage
Richard Kessler on arts education
Douglas McLennan's blog
Dalouge Smith advocates for the Arts
Art from the American Outback
Chloe Veltman on how culture will save the world
For immediate release: the arts are marketable
No genre is the new genre
David Jays on theatre and dance
Paul Levy measures the Angles
Judith H. Dobrzynski on Culture
John Rockwell on the arts
innovations and impediments in not-for-profit arts
Jan Herman - arts, media & culture with 'tude
Apollinaire Scherr talks about dance
Tobi Tobias on dance et al...
Howard Mandel's freelance Urban Improvisation
Focus on New Orleans. Jazz and Other Sounds
Doug Ramsey on Jazz and other matters...
Jeff Weinstein's Cultural Mixology
Martha Bayles on Film...
Fresh ideas on building arts communities
Greg Sandow performs a book-in-progress
Harvey Sachs on music, and various digressions
Bruce Brubaker on all things Piano
Kyle Gann on music after the fact
Greg Sandow on the future of Classical Music
Norman Lebrecht on Shifting Sound Worlds
Joe Horowitz on music
Jerome Weeks on Books
Scott McLemee on books, ideas & trash-culture ephemera
Wendy Rosenfield: covering drama, onstage and off
Public Art, Public Space
Regina Hackett takes her Art To Go
John Perreault's art diary
Lee Rosenbaum's Cultural Commentary