Tag Archives | Norman Lebrecht

Why Don’t Conducting Books Talk About The Music?

Riccardo_MutiWell, actually, some do.  I am reminded of Riccardo Muti’s truly insightful commentary in a podcast he did with British music journalist, Norman Lebrecht, in September 2011 (worth tracking down if it is still available on the BBC) wherein the maestro laments the prediliction in the USA toward training aspiring conductors how to ‘conduct the music’ as opposed to how to ‘study the music’.  I’m paraphrasing, but in essence this is the point he makes.

I am reminded of this as I have just finished reading several recently published new books on conducting by American conductors.  One was largely a memoir which I found mostly disingenuous; far too preoccupied with lauding the virtues of a much better known American conductor, and the other, offering an alternative approach to technical aspects of conducting distilled through the concept of ‘beauty’ in music.  The latter book has one or two genuine insights in what otherwise is a slim volume with little to offer.  Worse however than its over concision, is that some of what is espoused in respect to the physics pertaining to gestural motion in orchestral conducting technique is plain wrong. Continue Reading →

The Demise of DG’s Sinfini Platform: From Critic To Convert

Sinfini_Music_LogoIt surprised me a little that the demise of UMG’s entry-level platform to Classical Music – SINFINI –  caused hardly a ripple when it was announced in December 2015 its activities would be wound down.

In fact so little a ripple was created, I missed the announcement altogether.

When Sinfini launched in 2012; created by outgoing UMG Chairman and Chief Executive Max Hole, I was highly critical of the entire enterprise being in agreement with music critic Igor Toronyi-Lalic’s view of Sinfini’s “ingratiating tweeness”.  I have since changed my mind.

The Classical Music business is a very poor business indeed. It suffers unheralded ignominies by its gatekeepers – the few remaining multinational record companies – because of its inability to make them vast revenues quickly.  Classical music product is extremely expensive to make (I know!); takes months or even years to plan and execute, only to be ever so quickly consigned to the 50% off ‘Sale’ bin ( if you remember when there were actual record stores?)

If there are real heroes in this ugly business, it is the niche, independent boutique record companies that are keeping the patient alive (if only barely).  But, the unpalatable truth is that the record companies simply don’t care because of the sheer size of their legacy and back catalog of classical music already recorded able to be repackaged and re-issued, ad infinitum, in any applicable technical format of the day.

What has this to do with Sinfini? Continue Reading →