Small label poaches big pianist from DG

Small label poaches big pianist from DG


norman lebrecht

December 16, 2013

Maria João Pires, the venerated Portuguese pianist, has announced plans to record on the boutique label, Onyx. First up are two Beethoven concertos. Pires has been an exclusive DG artist since 1989.

It’s a great coup for Onyx, and a bit of a diplomatic problem. Onyx, founded by ex-Sony boss Chris Craker, was bought out in 2005 by Paul Moseley. So far as we know, he still owns it though Matthew Cosgrove runs the label day to day.

Moseley today is head of Decca, sister-label to DG, from where Pires (below, left) has jumped ship. Both are owned by Universal Music. The water-cooler conversations should be interesting.

Press release follows.

argerich pires

ONYX delighted to announce Portuguese pianist Maria João Pires joins the label with first recording set for release in May 2014


The recording, which features Beethoven’s Piano Concertos No.s 3 & 4, was made with conductor Daniel Harding and the Swedish Radio Orchestra in October 2013.


Maria’s future plans with ONYX include a collaboration in 2014 with French violinist and fellow ONYX recording artist Augustin Dumay to record Mozart’s Violin Sonatas, plus Beethoven’s Triple Concerto with Brazilian cellist Antonio Meneses in 2015. There are also plans to record Beethoven Piano Sonatas No.s 31 & 32.

Matthew Cosgrove, General Manager at ONYX Classics says: “We are delighted and honoured that Maria João Pires has joined our roster of Artists and we looking forward to the many exciting projects to come.”



  • Fan of serious labels says:

    Good for her! I’m glad to see serious artists leaving those no-longer-serious labels in the Universal stable.

    • anon says:

      I agree. Maybe she’ll get a little more respect from Onyx… how long did DG take to bring out her album this year?

  • Stereo says:

    Could she record Greig and Schumann with the Bournemouth Symphony orchestra who record for Onyx?

  • Chris Craker says:

    Congratulations to Onyx! This is exactly why the label was set up – this will be the start of another wonderful artistic and commercial collaboration.

  • Martin Bookspan says:

    If that is she in the photo, then she is a twin sister of Marta Argerich…….

  • Petros Linardos says:

    Boy, that leaves lots of room for snide remarks against DG. Maybe Krystian Zimerman doesn’t meet their criteria anymore either.

  • Alex Leach says:

    I believe Dumay is her partner? With Jian Wang (cello) they did a great recording of Brahms’ Piano Trios. I like her older recordings but her most recent ones have received mixed notices.

  • Edward Ryan says:

    This is good to hear, as Maria João Pires is an extraordinary artist. I don’t blame her leaving DG. I would do the same if I were an artist of her calibre, one who knows bad management when she sees it and doesn’t want to simply stand by and watch a once noble and great brand massacred and ruined by the ever idiotic Universal senior management, led by Max Hole, a wannabe classical boss, who proudly and unashamedly speaks about his lack of in-depth knowledge of the classical business. Yet, he sits at the top of it and makes most major decisions. Based on what knowledge? Based on what understanding? Yes, I know, they all think that it is so simple as to just apply the pop/rock music template to classics and it will all work just fine and rockers will become classical fans overnight. No, it doesn’t work like that and by having people like Max Hole in such a key position, the entire ship just keeps sinking. Because of this amateurish management, DG is now spoken about as a joke among most fellow artists that I speak with, as well as the serious collecting/buying public. As long as Mr. Hole and his managers continue to put more emphasis and more interest in everything that is ephemeral and quality is no longer their first priority, then we should expect more true great artists to defect and get away from the Universal classical morons.

  • noochinator says:

    Onyx is one of the labels offered through the Naxos Music Library (NML) streaming service. Sony and RCA have also recently joined the NML (though not with their full catalogues). I can’t wait until DG throws in the towel and joins the Naxos empire! Schadenfreude, Götterfunken, Tochter aus Elysium!