Breaking: Piotr Beczala dumps DG for the Dutch

Breaking: Piotr Beczala dumps DG for the Dutch


norman lebrecht

January 25, 2018

The Polish tenor has signed  an exclusive, multi-album contract with Pentatone.

He is the second international artist in a week to switch from a Universal label to the Dutch indy.

Something’s going on.

pic: Beczala signing for DG in 2012

Beczala said today: ‘I truly look forward to a new challenge and to this collaboration with PENTATONE – a company with a glorious past that now seems ready for a bright future. I look forward to working with an enthusiastic team that understands the modern age, but also cherishes traditional values. This combination creates fabulous prospects for beautiful recordings. Stay tuned!’


  • Caravaggio says:

    The powers that be at the old German record label need to change their ways or walk away to let other reasonable people make decisions. I think DG is doing well in the piano department (Perahia, Kissin, Lisiecki, Trifonov, Blechacz) but not in the vocal department. Could be that there are no singers whose art is worth documenting. Or that vocal records don’t sell (actually, little that’s classical sells). Tough place to be.

  • NN says:

    Maybe Pentatone just picks up what doesn’t sell on DG.

  • Anon says:

    Not hard to read between the lines, that he disliked the lack of “traditional values” in DG’s current approach. Probably he doesn’t want to do the fast food /finger food kind of recordings (take Kian Soltani’s debut album as an example) that DG thinks are better for their bottom line. Even if they are short term, is anyone in DG management able to steer the ship with a long term outlook, or do they have to report to the Universal bosses based on short term financial results? It seems so almost impossible these days, to run a cultural undertaking with the objective to make profit on one side, and also have a high class and highly cultivated image on the other.

    What I don’t understand about DG is, that they used to be the label that put stuff out with the confidence that what DG produces is what people should buy, because it is good, because they are the best.
    Once you let the bean counters in, who only can count tangible assets but understand nothing about non tangible assets, then all is lost.
    What works for a screw factory, does not work for a business that sells emotions, imaginations and sonic haute cuisine.

    Maybe one day humanity will look back at the age where the McKinseys and spreadsheet counters dominated corporate thinking, and understand that it was worse in effect than Stalin and Mao in their cultural demolition efforts.

    • NN says:

      I’m sure DG would still use their “old” model if they could but we are not living anymore in the golden Karajan-Kleiber-you-name-it-era, I’m afraid.

      I think the main point is that our society has changed dramatically in the past 50 years. There was a kind of unwritten agreement between artists, audience, record companies etc. in the “golden days”. “Everything” was accepted and you could trust “your” artist and “your” record company to give you the best available. They only recorded the “champions league”. Then a new generation of “artists” came into place saying quite loud that they all did it wrong and that they can do it much better. Their motivation was more political driven than musical (we have to remove the old “Maestro” model and we are real “democrats” and know how to play Bach the correct way). So insecurity started among artists, record companies and the audience. Since then we have so much self-explained “specialists” who very often ended being the new “maestros” in new clothing but not better music making. So the old model was destroyed and after a while the sales went down. Then marketing people and what you call “bean counters” came into place to fill the gap at the big labels. And the “democratic” movement established themselves after a while on indie labels who do not really pay their artists but who have a good “street credibility” in the public.

      So in the past 50 years there was a huge increase of recorded artists (in direct competition with the established artists) and record labels which caused finally some inflation on the market. So if you want, we have more democracy, more repertoire on the market but not necessarily better artistic competence just because of this…

      • Martin Atherton says:

        Spot-on analysis, NN.

      • Anon says:

        True all that. Still I wonder, how much the change of corporate culture has contributed. A Dr. Hirsch in the days of Karajan and Kleiber had probably much more freedom to run his business, could probably have another outlook and long term strategy with artists and repertoire, than today’s management is allowed by their corporate overlords. In the end, making classical music recordings and selling them is only somewhat functional as a business for profit, the other part of it is being a cultural undertaking, and none of those work for profit anywhere in the world. Quite the oxymoron.

  • Sanity says:

    It is much more likely that his contract, or the option, was up for renewal and DG don’t see the mileage in another go round the block.

    I would be flabbergasted if Beczala would not rather, in his heart of hearts, be at DG.

    • Piotr Beczala wurde von der DG nicht angemessen unterstützt, und er fühlte sich von ihr auch nicht angemessen unterstützt. Deswegen hat er von sich aus ein anderes Label gesucht und den Vertrag mit der DG gekündigt.

      • Sanity says:

        Look, an artist cannot just break an existing contract (not without paying severe financial penalties or facing legal action). And especially not with a company as big as Universal.

        Beczala did not ‘dump’ DG. It is much more likely that his 5-year contract (signed in 2012) had come to an end and that either the renegotiation stalled, or DG was not interested in renewing.

        The rest is just PR spin.

        • Ihre Behauptung entspricht nicht den tatsächlichen Gegebenheiten. Piotr Beczala war es, der kein Interesse an einer weiteren Zusammenarbeit mit der DG hatte. Ich weiß es von ihm selbst. Außerdem hatte er keinen 5-Jahres-Vertrag, sondern laut DG einen “Multi-CD-Vertrag”. Nach der Veröffentlichung von 2 Solo-CDs kann so ein Vertrag ja wohl kaum erledigt sein. Verträge kann man zwar nicht brechen, aber kündigen.

  • Fred says:

    wel the best recitals he ever recorded weren’t for DGG anyway but for the often far more interesting orfeo label