Break that mould! Dude goes vinyl for his next release…. you read it here first

Break that mould! Dude goes vinyl for his next release…. you read it here first


norman lebrecht

December 29, 2011

Rub your eyes, gals and guys. We are switching the clocks back to 1987.

It is that long since Deutsche Grammophon last released a new recording on vinyl. But my mole at the heart of the label has just whispered that the first classical vinyl in quarter of a century will come rolling off the presses in May.

It’s the next Gustavo Dudamel recording, and it’s all his own idea. Seeing that some of the people who come to his concerts are also the gals and guys he sees when he heads down to the clubs, the Dude thought he might do a favour to his DJ friends and get them putting classical back on their racks.

The first vinyl release will be Mendelssohn’s Scottish Symphony, and the orchestra is the Vienna Philharmonic. Feast your eyes on this memory-lane DG vinyl cover. Cool, or what?

Proceeds from the record will benefit the San Vicente núcleo of El Sistema in the Aragua State of Venezuela.


  • Tony says:

    Great idea. I hope the recording is 100pc analogue with tape otherwise everything you love or hate about ‘digital’ will still be a problem – only there will be rumble, clicks and bangs on top.

  • It takes a dude to make a record album the way ‘we’ knew it. I say let’s roll back the clocks! I want to be a vinyl artist too! Let’s do it!

  • I think I can beat Dude to the finish line 🙂 Just finished Liszt recording sessions (in all analog for vinyl LP – no edits welcome) two weeks ago. A report ( very technical) here 🙂
    It is so great that LP format is making a comeback. I was a convert the moment I found a huge stack of old LPs in my own attic , left by previous owners. I picked up a turntable on eBay ( great old Garrard 301 ) and I am enjoying the bliss ever since. First record I put on was Heifetz with Chicago Symphony and Fritz Reiner playing Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto. It was exhilarating! But yet I thought that most of this performance wouldn’t make it past editing software this days. it would be sliced, diced , blended, EQd , Auto-Tuned ….

    • Anon says:

      In fairness, analogue productions were sliced, diced, blended and EQ’d, sometimes well, sometimes not so well, just as modern digital productions are.
      [AutoTune isn’t really (yet!) a concern as far as classical music goes in any case – not that analogue couldn’t be sped up and slowed down to tweak these things if one wished, to a degree, too]

      If something is over-cut, over engineered… then that is most likely the fault of the operator, producer, or artist; it isn’t a problem or fault that is inherent in the medium.

      Granted, digital makes some of these things easier or quicker to do (and to undo); having the choice is the advantage. You can have an opinion on the sound of digital vs analogue, just as you can have an opinion on the purity or otherwise of a multi-microphone approach; but you can’t blame the medium or the kit for what folks do with it.

      • Digital did to music what Photoshop did to beauty photography. yes, in old film format there was retouching going on . But not like this Ralph Lauren infamous ad:
        There are plenty of similar examples in classical recordings, soloists who never played piece in front of the audience, singers who can’t really sing senza Auto-Tune….
        In analog times Schnabel was driving recording people nuts becuase he couldn’t comply with industry average of 19 cuts per LP. Now 800 cuts per CD is nothing to fuss about.A quarter note can be stiched from 3 takes – one for the attack , one for a perfect vibrato , one for decay. It ain’t art.

        • Anon says:

          I’m only suggesting that one can’t simply say “it’s analogue, therefore it must be better… or therefore it must be a truer representation”.
          There are plenty of dire analogue recordings, and plenty of butchered ones, just as there are plenty of great digital recordings. And poor ones.
          But I agree that modern technology makes it easier to “cheat”; just don’t believe it never could have happened before…

        • Dr. Marc Villeger says:

          Well recorded and newly pressed 45 RPM vinyl are among the finest sound treats available, as close as it gets from the master tapes! As for the older pressings, in the end, and despite some noises, cracks etc…, it is the quality of music making that sets apart many older LPs from other products. But this is true regardless of the medium… Ansermet on a mono Decca “Ace of Clubs” conducting “Danse Macabre”, Julius Katchen and Mantovani -Yes, Mantovani!- in Gerschwin’s Concerto in F or Sir Adrian Boult’s “1952 recording of “1812” -and not the reverse…- beat the heck of any later, bells and whistles digital re-creations. Finally, let’s not forget microphone placement and the superb sound of Mercury Living Presence records, destined to be played on dynamic speakers, not the anemic stuff pretending to audiophile status sold in some shops.

          As for CD edits, some so called “live” performance (in fact 50/50 live/studio) are even nominated for Grammys…

          Fortunately, ours won’t run that risk… LOL

          (P.S.: Valentina, funny that last spring we were in Paris two weeks apart and I was playing in the same white walled appartment overlooking the Bois de Boulogne that belongs to a scientist/amateur pianist friend of ours. Svetlana Ponomareva & Marc Villeger)

        • Interesting times are coming even to photo industry. A major cosmetics company , MUFE, made a stir in advertising circles by launching an ad campaing featuring FIRST EVER NON-RETOUCHED MODEL PHOTOS. They had to certify their claim with a help of a notary.

        • Just to make a point. Digital media has made making recordings more affordable to many people who want to make their own recordings and have their own studio. The same with films. There is a lot of material out there which wouldn’t be out there if it weren’t for the digital format. Film in photography and movies also caused a lot of pollution with the chemicals needed to process them. That can’t be understated. But there is a serious loss of fidelity. Older films also had better color, TV compromised this and digital media further compromised this; and analogue recordings are higher fidelity. Unfortunately, the digital age has also made it more easy for big business to make money. When you buy an mp3 from a digital download center, there’s almost no cost at all to the manufacturer. And I understand they lobbied big time to promote this. 16 bit 44.1 khz CD recordings became the standard although they could have moved to a higher standard. Now DVDs can be at least 24 bit, and blue ray can go a lot higher. I wonder if anyone could address whether this at all comes close to analogue for fidelity. You can make DVD-audio now too, and I imagine Blu-Ray-audio discs as well. addresses some of the questions. But, I’m assuming that analogue still has higher fidelity. I also myself LOVE the older tube microphones and their warm timbre of sound compared with modern condenser microphones. I don’t like all of this editing at all. Such and such a company, which is one of the top companies, uses so many microphones and edits their CDs to such an extent that it sounds like it’s in a tissue box, or like the softness of one of the graphics produced butterflies or flowers wafting around in a drug commercial. A nice pretentious fabricated artificial world. That’s then something I don’t listen to when listening to one of their recordings as it’s not worth paying attention to. If it’s a wonderful artist, they still break through, regardless. I’m glad that for a more than reasonable price I could buy equipment to make CD recordings, which are semi-professional. Something I couldn’t otherwise afford. But still, it seems to me that new and improved so often only means that the rich companies have found another way of distracting the people whose lives they keep in the slumps with economic suppression. I herald the people saying that new and improved isn’t always quality and are making some good old analogue LPs as rebellion.

  • Johnny Gandelsman says:

    The Dude’s album will be first on a major label. Here’s a link to a Kickstarter campaign by a NYC-based string quartet, Brooklyn Rider, who are about to release their new album, “Seven Steps” on vinyl. The album will be released by In a Circle Records, and will be out in April. The album includes Beethoven’s String Quartet no.14, opus 131, as well as a piece collaboratively written by all the members of the quartet.

  • Yeh Shen says:

    I actually love listening music on LP and don’t mind the friction noise most classical music audiophile do, because I grew up listening music this way. I am quite curious how many people will buy this, because I have always wondered how many classical music fans own LP players (still operating) today. Please keep us informed.

  • Hopefully this will bring some interesting times to the recording industry. But it is difficult to fight against was coming out.

  • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

    If I may, I agree completely with this idea. Taking it from a purely industry standpoint, if it is our wish to understand classical music as the high end product in the musical spectrum, we need a medium that conveys that, and the vinyl does.

    I really hope the “Dude”‘s release, as well as Valentina’s efforts are highly rewarded by providing general audiences a sense that what we do differentiates itself from everything that is released in the old “plastic” medium. How can we ever attempt to create value for the music that is recorded if it costs, feels like and looks the same as any release I myself can produce at home? (Rebecca Black comes to mind).

    Coming from a third world country, I noticed how nobody I ever knew there could ever own a Ferrari, not even seen one in the street, yet EVERYBODY knew what it is, what it was worth and WHY it was so great. The same way Ferrari is so effective in communicating the value of what they do, I believe music should have a high end sector that transmits the value of the music it contains. In addition, it does sound better than CD’s with modern equipment, and it is much harder to copy. This would immediately create value in the eyes of the general population we are so desperate to capture.

    The vinyl is something I have thought of for some time now, and I am glad DG is finally adopting it :).

    • I’m sorry, but, whilst I am delighted to see vinyl coming back, I strongly disagree with your assessment (except with the statement that vinyl sounds better).
      I think we need to make the music more accessible, not alienate it further. Unlike the Ferrari analogy you have used, here we want everyone to hear it and own it–not just know about it!
      The notion that “classical” music is something elite is what is plaguing the genre today. The view, often expressed by classical music afficionados, that this music is somehow better than the rest is, I believe, largely what has lead to alienating everyone else. A friend of mine who studied in Chicago for four years once told me that, whilst he had heard all the high praise of the Chicago Symphony, and had been tempted to go hear them, did not end up dong so because he felt that he “needed to know more about the music” before he could attend one of their concerts. Unfortunately, as much as that perturbed me, it did not surprise me, and I cannot blame him for feeling that way.
      In my view, one of the things that makes musicians like Lenny Bernstein and Yo-Yo Ma so special is that they refuse to see the boundaries between genres. In fact, if you look amongst all the great classical musicians today, I think you would be hardpressed to find those that begrudge other genres.
      Of course, some genres speak to an individual more than others; just in the same way that some composers speak to you more than others. I sense that, as with me, classical music perhaps speaks to you the strongest. However, I don’t think that makes it inherently better or greater than other genres–and I certainly don’t think that that is the way to market it (or rather, continue to market it).
      Alex Ross has described this far more eloquently in the first few paragraphs of this marvelous essay:
      I think there is a lot to be said for eclecticism in music. More so, often listening to other music can inform our listening of “our” music. We want to have others listen to and love our music, as well. It doesn’t need to, nor should it, replace all other music. It needs to exist alongside it.
      Accepting his lifetime achievement Grammy, Lenny Bernstein expressed a desire to see all music come together, because “they are all one.” I truly hope we get there someday.

      [I apologize for veering off the vinyl debate. This is just a topic that has been on my mind a lot recently, especially after re-reading Alex Ross’ essay just a few days ago, and I couldn’t resist the urge to respond.]

      • Alvaro Mendizabal says:

        Thanks so much for the response. I just finished reading the essay and it is amazing!

        I understand why my statement might have been taken as a pure “elitist” position, such a common mindset in this market. However, if you examine my post I never defined classical music as “better”. As a generation Y Latin American, quite honestly I do not particularly value Classical Music more than I value Salsa, Pop, Brazilian or even some good R&B or Hip Hop tunes; it exists along these other genres. I believe the convergence desired by Yo Yo Ma and Lenny Bernstein is ever more present in young generations.

        My excitement about the vinyl exists because although this is by no means a “solution”, for me it partly responds to the question: how do we give value to this type of music? The ownership model in the music industry is decaying every day, prioritizing an access based model(Amazon, Naxos Music Library, iCloud, iTunes, Pandora, Rhapsody, and a large etc). Access is there, with anyone has access to the entire music history. However, how do musicians capitalize on it?

        Valentina is a magician in the use of new media to provide access to audiences. This creates value and interest for her upcoming Vinyl, and I really hope it surpasses all expectations :).

        Traditionally, classical music has applied “push” strategies to gain audiences, which basically summarize in: please listen to this because its educational, because it makes your baby more intelligent, because it helps you in school, because its culture, among others. Would the answer be to give recordings for free in schools and use taxpayers money to subsidize music education everywhere? What incentives would I have to spend my time and money in this music, in a time when I have access to the entire spectrum of music from my mobile device?

        I think a “pull” strategy works much better in this scheme because high value products elicit involvement and desire from consumers. Can anyone imagine what would happen to the value of diamonds if suddenly there were free samples? I used the Ferrari example because of the way they create awareness via gimmicks, toys and advertising as means to charge a premium on their end products. Why not do the same with this branch of music?

        New media provides a free platform to provide content and create awareness, and both Valentina and the “Dude” have mastered its use. The upcoming months will be very exiting.

        • Great point, Alvaro! Push-pull analogy is right on.

          People naturally tend to value things tangible, something they can “own” and call theirs. Nothing wrong with it. The concept of having your music library in a cloud, even with relatively unhindered access to it, this concept goes against human nature. I predict that it will work just as good as old USSR constitution stating that all land belongs to all people. Right 
          It invites all kinds of abuse, theft and piracy. The biggest mistake recording companies made was to turn music into commodity. Disposable media, disposable artists…
          When Michael Jackson died, people didn’t run to download his songs they stampeded to buy a very expensive commemorative CD edition.
          Vinyl, for all things that were bad with it, gave people a sense of ownership. They could share it with friends, listening at home, without being labeled a pirate. If it was perfectly legal to listen to a recording together with 10 or 12 friends back then – why is it illegal now to listen and share a download with 30000 friends on Facebook? Who is there to tell people that they can have only a set amount of friends? Are governments or courts truly in position to prescribe a legal friend quantity and quality?

  • Mr Blue Sky says:

    Why in heaven’s name would anyone need to hear Dudamel conducting Mendelssohn????!!! Give me a break…

  • Yi-Peng Li says:

    I’ve got a question about this news. Will this vinyl be a limited edition pressing? Also, is there a CD release of this recording in the offing?

  • Yi-Peng Li says:

    I know I shouldn’t be changing the subject of our discussion. However, when I read about this Dudamel Mendelssohn vinyl release it made me wish that Gardiner and the ORR would record a CD of the Scottish and Italian Symphonies, and the Hebrides Overture.