Just in: Mirga signs a record deal

It has been an open secret in what’s left of the record business that Decca and Deutsche Grammophon were mud-wrestling over which got first to the bar to sign the Birmingham conductor, Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla.

Last night, DG won.

Mirga, 32, will be the first woman conductor on the DG list.


Her first release will be music by the Polish-born Soviet composer Mieczysław Weinberg – his Symphony No. 21 “Kaddish” with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, plus the early second symphony. She will go on to record music by her compatriot Raminta Šerkšnytė with the Lithuanian National Symphony Orchestra, Vilnius Municipal Choir and Kremerata Baltica, followed by works by British composers with the CBSO.

Mirga said: Deutsche Grammophon was part of my musical upbringing. It’s a genuine honour to join DG and to record works that will be new to so many listeners. The music of Mieczysław Weinberg and Raminta Šerkšnytė, a rising star among Lithuanian composers, deserves to reach the widest possible audience. It’s very exciting that our partnership will document some of the musical adventures that the fabulous CBSO and I are about to embark on together and will celebrate the orchestra’s centenary with an album of landmarks of 20th-century British music. I look forward to this thrilling collaboration with DG and to the musical discoveries we can make together.’

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  • I don’y know why the ‘mud wrestling is going on as Decca and DG are both part of Universal. As I will not be buying either of the recordings it is no big deal.

      • Norman, I seem to recall you have a dismissive attitude about major label signings before. I hope we can have this discussion based on musical merit, not the politics of the first woman conductor on a major label. For myself, I’ll be glad to listen, at least if the releases feature music that is interesting and not overly represented in my library. So far, looks good.

      • Because she is totally overrated as a conductor and musician? Haven’t heard anything GOOD conducted by her. Her concert in Wien at the Musikverein last year with CBSO was embarrasing…
        Don’t you think too often women with limited knowledge and talent are being pushed into the conducting circuit just because they are young and women?

        • Oh, yes, defintely. It is the fahionable thing now. A few years back it was conductors who almost still were in the Kindergarten, and later it was latin conductors (it didn’t matter if they had no idea of what they were doing!); now it is young women…

        • With a market saturated men with limited knowledge and talent, might as well bring in new blood for that, don’t you think?

          • Seems like there’s another degree of freedom that could be utilized here, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…

        • Oh, don’t say what we’re all thinking; you’ll be punished and sent to hell in our new gender totalitarianism.

  • Mirga backlash aside, if this is truly the repertoire she’ll be recording, I may actually buy my first new DG releases in years.

    • Why wouldn’t it be? Weinberg 21 is already in the can – it was recorded in November last year and the live performances from which it was taken received extremely positive reviews.

    • Interesting — in considering your comment plus another one above referring to “major labels,” I began to think about my purchases over the past several years. And you’re right — the erstwhile “majors” make up only a small fraction of my buys.

      If you took away the “old bulls” I’d hardly notice. On the other hand, don’t mess with CPO, Chandos, Naxos, Timpani, BIS, Et Cetera, MD+G and Dutton!

  • At first, I was going to ask, why would recording companies mud wrestle over *anyone*, how much can classical recordings possible make today? The advertising budget probably exceeds sales.

    Then, I saw she was going to record Mieczysław Weinberg, Raminta Šerkšnytė…

    Because if there is a hidden multi-billion euro market out there, it is for Mieczysław and Šerkšnytė… Rumor has it the Japanese are collecting Mieczysław and Šerkšnytė like crazy.

    Congratulations to DG for winning this mud wrestling match.

  • I’m not going to comment on the quality or otherwise of Mirga’s abilities. What I would say is that, if you’d said to Karajan, Bernstein, Maazel or Bohm that the CBSO might become a regular feature on the DG label, they would have choked on their respective up beats!

    • You really must accept the fact that things in all aspects of life move on and change, music being no exception. The CBSO is the Orchestra which topped the Japanese collective of critics a few years
      ago and is the orchestra which won the best CD album of all time since the inception of CD’s. They regularly feature in some of the top festivals around the world – Lucerne, Saltzburg, Proms – to name just three. Orchestra’s move on, grow/stagnate in much the same way as anything else in life. You need to accept the fact that they may just be doing something right – ahead of some of the others! A bloodline of Rattle, Oramo and Nelsons seems to hint at something pretty good going on I would suggest.

    • Michael,

      Changing times and a welcome introduction of a top class orchestra.

      Those eminent musicians would have approved of what they heard if they listened to many of the CBSO concerts and recordings.

    • I have a very fine set of CDs from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra conducted by Charles Mackerras: Mozart’s late symphonies and performed magnificently. It’s not a first-name orchestra, though, is it. Give CBSO and Mirga a chance.

      • I am all for giving Mirga a chance and sparing her the hype, but don’t understand the comparison.
        The Scottish Chamber Orchestra is a very fine group.
        Charles Mackerras was a fantastic, erudite, effective and deeply musical conductor. One of my top choices for many recordings, including Mozart.
        Mackerras famously annotated the musicians’ parts ahead of rehearsals, to make the work more efficient. How many conductors do this today? I only know of Honeck, but I could be wrong.

    • The DG online catalogue currently reflects two CBSO releases – one in 2007 and one in 2017. Hardly a regular feature.

    • Times are different. These days, with the talent coming out of most music schools, pretty much every orchestra that pays a living wage – and even many that pay less – is good, if not great.

  • I wish Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla well. Hope she is not too frustrated by her coverage in this blog.

    As for the directors of DG and Decca… I can’t help thinking of the duel scene in Tchaikovsky’s Eugene Onegin. Maybe Onegin and Lensky could be managers at those two companies, if this blog is anything to go by.

  • What does “record deal” mean ? 2 CDs, 4 CDs?
    The business with CDs is over, the record labels are clueless how to proceed in the future.
    Contemporary music is the challenge of today, however it will not be big business.
    We do not need more Beethoven symphony-cycles, we have enough great recordings in the back catalogues. Many important recordings are unavailable today. Take care of your CDs if you still have them.
    Great to have Weinberg 21 recorded with Mirga and Kremer, it is the first recording available. No “mud fight” between the labels, they are sister labels within Universal. Gone are the days of glory for the labels, which are overstaffed, without vision or knowledge. Also the quality of the recordings is not what it used to be, but probably still good enough for Spotify on earplugs.

  • This constant seeking of musical gods and goddesses to worship. What about all the other great conductors working quietly to produce sterling work! A number of conductors have been quietly building up the Weinberg catalogue.

  • What does ‘signing a record deal’ actually mean these days in the classical world?
    It seems not so much? Aren’t todays ‘record deals’ more like ‘letters of intent’?
    Basically: “Let’s do something together, let’s hope it works, if not we have clauses to end it prematurely, and we want exclusivity. (and a share of all your income)”?

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