Musical News

A few significant things have been happening around the musical world recently.

  • Osmo Vänskä has returned to the Minnesota Orchestra. His support for the orchestra during their 16-month lockout finally resulted in the resignation of Michael Henson, President of the Board, and several other board members also. Osmo has been re-hired on a two-year contract.
    This is great news for Minnesota and for music lovers everywhere. Hopefully it means that the Vänskä/Minnesota partnership can now go on to complete their recordings of the Sibelius symphonies for BIS. Symphonies 1, 2, 4 and 5 in performances which have received great critical acclaim and have already been described as ‘a Sibelius set for the 21st Century’. I can vouch for the excellence of the four available symphonies, and look forward to acquiring the rest when they become available.
  • In Amsterdam, on the other hand, a departure has been announced. Mariss Jansons and the Concertgebouw Orchestra are to part company at the end of the 2014/15 season, presumably due to maestro Jansons’s continuing health problems.
    Inevitably, there’s already speculation about who the orchestra’s next chief conductor will be. Andriss Nelson is probably kicking himself now, having already signed a contract to take over the baton with the Boston Symphony, beginning with the 2014/15 season. Names being bantered around include Iván Fischer, Vladimir Jurowsky, Esa-Pekka Salonen (we haven’t heard much about him since he left Los Angeles), and even Markus Stenz as a possible wild card.
  • Speaking of BIS (I was — see the first bullet point), the label’s wonderful head honcho Robert von Bahr had this to say a couple of days ago when launching clarinettist Martin Fröst’s latest recording (Brahms’s Clarinet Quintet and Trio, and six Brahms songs arranged by Martin Fröst for clarinet and piano): However, well, some sad news as well. Here it is, the (as it looks) last volume of original new BIS recordings with that genius Martin Fröst. Everything good seems to have to come to an end, and, after 19 years of co-operation, Martin has been snatched up by a bigger company for the foreseeable future. This trend is increasingly in evidence, and I’m always upset when I see musicians deserting labels which helped build their reputation and move on to the likes of Decca or Sony or whatever. There’s Julia Fischer, for example, who began her recording career with Pentatone and sprang to fame thanks to them. Now she’s one of the pretty faces in the Decca (aka Universal) stable. It must be really frustrating for smaller labels who recognise and foster and encourage talent and then see their young stars snapped up by the big guns with offers of more money than they could ever match. [Note: That’s the end of the rant.]