Deutsche Grammophon signs a composer

The Yellow Label has inked (sic) arms with one of the most successful musical deconstructionists, Max Richter. He has somehow managed to find a new audience for Vivaldi without frightening off the old.

Press release follows.

max richter dg

Contemporary British composer Max Richter today announced a new partnership with Deutsche Grammophon, the world’s oldest classical music label.

Composer, musician, producer, remixer and collaborator extraordinaire, Richter defies definition. An enigma he may be; what is beyond argument is that he is one of the most prolific musical artists of his generation.

The exclusive new deal encompasses new works and collaborations, as well as the release in April on Deutsche Grammophon of his best-selling solo albums Infra24 Postcards in Full ColourSongs from Before and The Blue Notebooks. In addition, a new recording of Richter’s much-praised orchestral work Memoryhouse will appear in September.

To celebrate the new partnership, Deutsche Grammophon will issue a new edition of Richter’s highly acclaimed Vivaldi Recomposed, his unique reworking of The Four Seasons for violin, chamber orchestra and moog synthesizer – already one of the most talked-about new classical works of recent times. This best-selling album will now also include remixes, newly-composed electronic soundscapes, and an exclusive performance film, featuring Max Richter and violinist Daniel Hope, and shot in East Berlin in late 2013. A brand-new app will go on sale at the same time, allowing users to experience Recomposed and an original version of Vivaldi’s classical hit side by side, with commentary, background essays and unique user functionalities.

Pictured signing his new contract at this week’s Universal Music Global Classical Music Conference, with (left to right) Jane Carter, Mark Wilkinson, Costa Pilavachi, Christian Badzura, Max Hole and Ute Fesquet, Richter commented: “I am thrilled to be part of the Yellow Label family, and look forward to helping shape the presentation of and passion for contemporary music over the coming years.”max richter

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  • This could be interesting, although, sadly, I doubt that it will reverse the fall of Deutsche Grammophon at this point. The label no longer has a clear identity, not for those hardcore diehard classical consumers and neither for the audience that they are trying to reach with this recent signing. The label is, and has been, directionless and rudderless for more than fifteen years already and the damage done is so extensive and the image and consumers lost are so enormous that it would take a miracle to get it back on track. A label is like a political party in that it must stand for something, but it can’t stand for everything. Deutsche Grammophon today has lost its credo, or at least is not able to communicate it efficiently and coherently and like a political party who finds itself in that situation, it has lost its adherents, its followers, because both present and past label leaders strayed far from its original manifesto. Today, it tries to be everything to everybody, but it will not succeed until it “publishes” its manifesto. Exactly who are you Deutsche Grammophon? What do you stand for and where do you see your label in ten years? Reading snippets of interviews with their various managers from time to time, one gets a very fragmented and not too impressive image of an iconic brand flailing its arms in every direction, expending enormous energy an resources, but still remaining as vague and unfocussed as ever, perhaps even more so.

  • . . . And Deutsche Grammophon gets a new audience. MR’s “4 Seasons” is best played at loud volume in a restaurant that serves Sunday brunch to people with sleeve tattoos.

  • “Big Deal” one could say. For example, check out how many CDs has DGG produced with D. Trifonov- Exactly one.

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