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John Eliot Gardiner's Contract Canceled Steven D. Brown
Tue Dec 19 2000 20:02
Deutsche Grammophon has canceled its contract with John Eliot Gardiner, citing dwindling sales figures. I know - to some this may be good news.

This makes me think that the trend will veer toward more and more musicians taking full artistic control and producing their own recordings. So, let the sleeping giants coast by with artistically-compromised crossover product. Serious musicians will still find their audience.
re: John Eliot Gardiner's Contract Canceled Julian Thake
Tue Dec 19 2000 22:20
While Gardiner is way too full of himself for my liking and I consider his Bach in particular to be wildly overrated, I could not take any pleasure in the news that DG had pulled the plug on him and the kind of enterprise he was undertaking. Steven, I think you may well be right about the way things will go in the future. I just hope the serious artists to whom you refer, and their audience, will be able to afford it.
re: John Eliot Gardiner's Contract Canceled Steven D. Brown
Tue Dec 19 2000 22:37

I knew I would hear from you on this one! :)

The London Symphony is already releasing their own recordings, taped in concert. The changes in the recording industry could actually be one of the healthiest things for serious music. Who needs the hype? It is the music that counts!
re: John Eliot Gardiner's Contract Canceled bduhamel
Wed Dec 20 2000 21:04
Wow! Slatkin, Gardiner, who's next? These are some prety big names being dropped here. Maybe Masur will be next (I hope!)?

re: John Eliot Gardiner's Contract Canceled mcdade
Fri Dec 22 2000 10:45
I am no fan of Gardiner but I think it risible that the reason cited is poor sales. This from a company which obviously regards classical as some sort of loss making subsidiary to be downsized as soon as possible. Certainly apart from the new budget series (and what odd and random couplings that has thrown up - Prok Romeo and Juliet with no Montagues and Capulets - I can only assume a computer error) they seem to have no interest in what most of us would agree to term classical music. They may kid themselves that The Three Tenors singing Jingle Bells (one of the most disturbing sights I've seen in many years I can tell you!) is classical but in reality it does nothing to attract more people into more demanding stuff. You can't spend years promoting nothing but Vanessa Mae and Charlotte Church and then accuse Gardiner of not selling (true he was trying to pull a Karajan style fast one by getting DG to pay for what is basically an extended vanity project). Albums like The Three Tenors at Christmas is aimed at the outer fringes of easy listening and doesn't do anything for classical music as a whole. If these record companies were serious about widening the audience for serious music then they would stop trying to fool us all that people bought the Titanic soundtrack for the score and not for Celine Dion's frightful warbling.
For what it's worth it has always seemed to me that new audiences for classic are going to come from listeners to the more serious side of rock rather than Lloyd-Webber devotees. Regardless of what you think about rock, at its more advanced levels it is trying to find new ways of expression through music - not a million miles from what classical does.
I wonder whether it wouldn't better for the mass labels to give up on classical and leave to people with the love and devotion to do it better. Certainly I think the LSO project is inspired - as I have ranted before on these pages I think if you break the link between live music making and recording you are going to create trouble for yourself. Interestingly enough Gardiner recorded all of his cantata concerts privately. With new technology who knows what lies ahead...
re: John Eliot Gardiner's Contract Canceled bduhamel
Fri Dec 22 2000 12:00

I agree very much with your assessment of attracting listeners to Classical. I myself, came to the world of Classical from the world of rock music. I know some in the Classical world deride rock music as somehow inferior noise, but this is not all true. I, as a listener and musician, was always very adventurous when it came to rock music, and I did and still to this day, listen to some very experimental and Avant Garde, if you will, rock music. It was this longing for art that led me to Classical music almost 12 years ago now, when I still just in my late teens. Gradually, over time, Classical music listening and collecting (I'm not quite a good enough musician to actually play it , so when I do play my guitar, I stick to rock, folk, blues) has become one of the biggest parts of my life. As I am also an avid audiophile, I have a HUGE CD collection of near 2,500 CDs, about half of which are Classical.

Naturally, being as experimental as I am, over time, I began to explore beyond the realm of Bach, and Mozart, Beethoven etc. To discover The Romantics and Late Romantics such as Mahler and Debussy (Mahler being my favourite Late Romantic, if not over all composer of all time), which led to my discovery of the Modernists, which I grasped on to, which in turn led to my discovery of Contemporary Classical music (believe it or not, when I first started listening to Classical, I had no idea there was such a thing as 'Contemporary' Classical music, I thought it was all old stuff from people long dead!), of which I am a huge fan. So the industry got a life long Classical music lover, listener and purchaser from the "Rock" side out of me. But, as you stated, it certainly wasn't because of these powder puff compilations they were and still are trying to push on people. I never would have even considered something like that at the time. Too 'cheezy'.

One should also remember, however, that it is not entirely up to the record companies to build a classical audience. Appreciation for the finer arts is often something that needs to be taught someone from an early age. At the alarming rate at which schools here in the States have been cutting back on, or pulling entirely, funding for their Arts programs, because they are deemed 'unnecessary' for higher education, it is no wonder that there is a dwindling market place for Classical music. After all, record labels are businesses trying to make a buck, and 'the bottom line' must always come into play for a business' survival. If this trend keeps up, we'll be fortunate to find anything worthwhile
in the record stores. We may end up having to rely solely on live performances to get our classical ';fix'.
re: John Eliot Gardiner's Contract Canceled mcdade
Fri Dec 22 2000 13:44
Yes the government in Britain is trying to marginalise music education in schools in a similar way (we also managed to replace on philistine goverment with an even more ignorant one).
I like to use an analogy with art. Few people with any pretensions to any cultural life visit a major city without visiting at least one art gallery. We do not hear about these people feeling alienated or excluded from the Great Masters of the past. Similarly why is it that this is the norm and yet it is perfectly ok to not only remain in ignorance of the great legacy of classical music but to postively revel in it?
I find it a very frustrating situation because I know that there is a huge potential audience for classical music - I guess I have a sort of missionary zeal because I find it appalling that people may be missing out on the sort of joy and pleasure that this music has given me over the years. I read an interview with one of the top execs at Universal in which, reading between the lines, he was basically saying that classical music enthusiasts are just anaroks and trainspotters who collect for the sake of collecting. A message to the most powerful record company in the world of classical music - we are this obsessive because we love it.
Looking at things more positively, London where I live has never had a more vibrant live scene - you can see a topnotch concert virtually every night of the week and not only that the audience figures are excellent. I understand that in relation to britney spears' latest oeuvre sales of classical are small beer for universal but this does not mean that classical music is not financially viable. Yes, I think there needs to be some readjusting of sights - for example can top opera houses receiving millions of pounds of subsidies really justify paying rock star wages to singers when they are blatantly living beyond their means? Also when will record producers realise that recordings today (when just about all the repertoire is available in dozens of excellent recordings) is not about assembling ad hoc starry casts but about recording memorable live music making (whether that means live recording or bringing in casts or combinations into the studio following live performances) in this way music can tap into the enthusiasm generated by live performances - I can't be the only one who has walked out of a concert and thought "I simply must buy those performers recording of that work".

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