Mirga: I want to record unknown things

Mirga: I want to record unknown things


norman lebrecht

May 26, 2019

Gramophone magazine has published the first interview with Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla by someone who actually knows her, has worked with her Bimingham orchestra and seen most of her concerts there. Richard Bratby brings out a portrait of an extremely hard-working, self-confident conductor with her feet planted firmly on the ground.

‘Repertoire-wise, at least, my hope is that we will be able to record some very special – maybe unknown – things. When I think about recording, I feel a sense of responsibility about the fact that what we do stays there forever. Maybe one day I can dream about recording Mahler, but right now I have a feeling that we already have so much of that sort of thing. There’s much less … let’s call it “need” for another Beethoven cycle, than there is for the discovery of Weinberg’s music….

‘Weinberg’s work is incredibly diverse. There are examples of the happiest music ever, and the most serious music conceivable. His skills as a composer are incredible: all the pieces I have studied and worked on so far have been incredibly challenging both for the players and for the conductor. Analysing a Weinberg score is a fantastic occupation because he uses every possible technique to connect and develop his themes. These techniques are never just used for the sake of it, but are always very much connected to a certain message he wants to convey.’

Full interview here.

Rathaus, next?

I’ll suggest Goldschmidt when I see her.

Name 5 more composers who require her urgent attention.


  • Ned Keene says:

    Considering the proximity of Birmingham to Staffordshire, she might well consider recording the works of ‘local boy’ Havergal Brian? Many of his works stand in dire need of decent recordings.

    • Gareth says:

      Agreed. I’ve managed to get hold of most of Brian’s symphonies from various sources, and I’ve often wished for a full “cycle” on record.

    • Cigleris says:

      Indeed, but may I suggest Peter Wishart? Symphonies, Opera, Concertos and Birmingham born

  • Gregor Tassie says:

    Myaskovsky , Mosolov, Roslavets



  • Caravaggio says:

    Her new disc of Weinberg’s symphonies 2 & 21 is phenomenally great. It is an honor to be made acquainted with great compositions from a composer previously unknown (to me).

    • Gregor Tassie says:

      I listened to this new CD and frankly am disappointed by these symphonies, whilst I became a fan of Weinberg when his 4th symphony and violin concerto were released back in the 1970s, everything since has never matched up – Weinberg is massively overrated – sorry to say so but true.

      • HugoPreuss says:

        Go and watch “The Passenger”, which I just saw in Gera (Germany). There are DVDs out there. An incredibly moving, sad, haunting opera by Weinberg. The most terrifying opera I have ever heard. It makes Jenufa (previously my front runner for the saddest opera ever) look like the second act of Die Fledermaus… Weinberg is not overrated, he is a towering genius. Just ask Shostakovich.

        • Ned Keene says:

          [[ It makes Jenufa (previously my front runner for the saddest opera ever) ]]

          Despite the fact that – like most of Janacek’s works – Jenufa has a redemptory ending – even with the cmoial showdown between the Mayor and his intended bride. Hardly the saddest?

  • Jean says:

    Väinö Raitio
    Joseph Marx
    Eduard Tubin
    Allan Pettersson

    The first ones that came into my mind this morning

  • Tamino says:

    Well, the way things go with the recording industry (atrocious), there are two paths to pursue: either record things that wealthy sponsors want to support. Or record things that appeal to the big unwashed masses. She seems to opt for the first path.

    • FS60103 says:

      Interesting. Could you clarify which “wealthy sponsors” wanted to record the Weinberg symphony? The Polish culture ministry put a modest amount of money towards MGT’s Weinberg disc but if you imagine that was sufficient to swing it you clearly don’t have much experience either of arts funding or artistic planning.

    • Paul Brownsey says:

      Why do you say “unwashed”? Was your mind running on cliche there?

      • Tamino says:

        It was running on the fact that André Rieu sells 10 times the amount of tickets than Hillary Hahn, in the same city.

  • Anon says:

    There’s a reason why some music is never played! Ask the musicians.

    • FS60103 says:

      If we’d asked the musicians, most of Beethoven’s symphonies, most of Berlioz’s music, The Rite of Spring, Bruckner’s symphonies, Schubert’s 9th and about 90% of everything written since 1940 would never have been played. You don’t ask a bricklayer to judge an architectural competition.

      • Nick says:

        You are barking up the wrong tree, brother. And that is why your name is so elaborately encoded. Musicians know bad music from good. As far as I remember Beethoven, Berlioz, Bruckner and Schubert wrote their stuff well before 1940! Educate yourself.

        • Allen says:

          “As far as I remember Beethoven, Berlioz, Bruckner and Schubert wrote their stuff well before 1940!”

          You need to read the original comment again, more carefully.

        • FS60103 says:

          Yeah, thanks for that. You might want to reread my post and try again…

      • Adrienne says:

        ‘You don’t ask a bricklayer to judge an architectural competition.’

        No, unfortunately we ask other architects. That’s the problem.

    • Eric B says:

      Ah, ah, ah… there are MANY reasons why some music is never played… Not everyone of them has to do with the intrinsec qualities of the said music/composers.

      • John Borstlap says:


        In former times, there was a kind of ‘filtering system’ nested within the performance culture, which – in spite of quite some flaws – in the longer term did work. But in the last century this has crumbled, for many different reasons. Nowadays, pieces being performed are the result of very random and complex dynamics. I thik this has to do with the disappearance of tradition, which offers a ‘bedding’ for music production, where different attempts compete with each other within a limited format, gradually changing both the nature of the tradition and the format, but slowly and steadily. All that has gone by now.

  • We privatize your value says:

    Egon Wellesz, Goffredo Petrassi, Wladimir Vogel, Roberto Gerhard, Karel Husa.
    You said “five more”, right?

    • Ned Keene says:

      When they said ‘five more’, they meant composers – not 5 copies of each disk, which is the most you’d sell of these.

      • We privatize your value says:

        This is a classic misconception, born out of ignorance and neophobia. Is that the kind of music no one wants to hear: https://youtu.be/d5W6cgxkOuI ?

        • Ned Keene says:

          Sport out your own money on recording Wellesz, then? Then we’ll see who’s ‘ignorant’, you charmless man

        • John Borstlap says:

          That is quite odd music, it sounds like someone walking backwards.

        • Ned Keene says:

          It’s bitterly ironic that you have a Lithuanian conductor at the CBSO who *says* she wants to record ‘unknown things’.

          Meanwhile, Toccata Classics are just releasing piano and violin concertos by the British composer William Wordsworth, conducted by John Gibbons and recorded by the Liepaja Symphony Orchestra, in Lithuania.

          British audiences in Birmingham are simply too snooty to listen to tonal compositions by their own countrymen.

          And is it all just a load of Olde-English chunky-cut cow-pat set to music?: Judge for yourselves.

          Bravo to Martin Anderson of Toccata Classics for having the gumption and perseverance to get this noble and deserving music onto disk. Because this is what will actually sell more than five copies.

  • Thomas Roth says:

    Roy Harris, Gösta Nystroem, Boris Tchaikovsky, Einar Englund, William Schuman.

  • LIVN says:

    Lucien Durosoir!!!! And Lithuanian composers – Dvarionas, Barkauskas, Ciurlionis!

  • Cubs Fan says:

    And I thought the recording biz was dying! Well if it’s not…
    1. The symphonies of Ebenezer Prout
    2. Julius Otto Grimm symphony
    3. A complete opera from Joachim Raff
    4. Orchestral works of Jaromir Weinberger
    5. New, complete recordings of Franz Schmidt’s two operas

    • Eric B says:

      I don’t know anything about the 1st 2, but I second your suggestions on all the others. There’s a long overdue need for a GOOD “Notre-Dame” by Schmidt !

  • Jaime Herrera says:

    Casimir J. Pitopouros? He is as unknown as they come.

    • Petrushka says:

      Almost any country (from Iceland to Brazil…), has a treasury of unperfomed, forgotten composers. Even in France, Germany, Austria and Italy a wealth of unknown music remains “dead”. I sincerely hope that Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla will be given the opportunity to perform unknown scores.
      A few of my favourites from the 20th century: Hilding Rosenberg, Charles Koechlin, Matthijs Vermeulen, Willem Pijper, André Jolivet, William Schuman, Peter Mennin, Oliver Knussen…..

  • FS60103 says:

    Lots of ideas for rare, recordable repertoire here. So why isn’t anyone crowdfunding it? Orchestras will record whatever they’re paid to record. So start raising the money! We hear a great deal from the Havergal Brian fans, but we’ve yet to see them get organised and start opening their chequebooks. Seems like an open goal to me.

  • Oboe88 says:

    Good idea. Record pieces no-one knows so people cannot see your lack of musical ideas and compare to other versions. Same as Leon Botstein in the US with the American Symphony Orchestra.

  • Scott says:

    Raff, Vanhal, Gade, Zemlinsky, Rathaus.

  • Monsoon says:

    I’d go with some slightly less obscure composers who I think would gain traction with audiences if they were played more often:

    HK Gruber

  • Robert Roy says:

    George Lloyd.

  • Bill says:

    No composer requires her urgent attention, IMO.

  • Novagerio says:

    Myaskovsky anyone? There are 27 of them…

  • Evan Tucker says:

    The list is incalculably large. How can new composers ever expect to get a fair hearing when there is a 300 year backlog of underperformed great music?

    • Petrushka says:

      The situation does seem desperate, indeed. But possibly it needs only one courageous woman to turn the tide.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed, like the concerti grossi by Joachim Alzheimer, totally forgotten today.

  • Nick says:

    Great!! Because for “well known things” we have real conductors!!

  • UVXY says:

    why not an all-Conrad Beck CD! So overlooked…

  • Eric B says:

    Wonderful… Times are changing…
    Here are my five :
    Gabriel Pierné
    Florent Schmitt
    Germaine Tailleferre
    Vincent d’Indy (even though for him, pretty much everything as already been recorded).
    (well, yeah, it’s an all-French list, but isn’t it time that people realize that there are a lot of other worthwhile French composers next to Berlioz, Debussy and Ravel ?).

  • Emanuele Passerini says:

    to record the whole series of Symphonies by Weinberg (currently missing as a complete set, but only most of them on different albums) would be a wonderful achievement and a great reference for the future

  • M McAlpine says:

    Whenever I listen to an ‘unknown’ piece of music I usually quickly realise why it’s unknown!

  • kundry says:

    Wonderful idea! Add to this : “with unknown orchestras, on unknown labels and played to unknown audiences of less than 100 people” and we finally got something really interesting……

  • sorin braun says:

    all the good composers are played and recorded.
    classical music is a limited repertoir of some 100 composers , that’s all.the others are plain rubbish – often skilled and extremely gifted musicians – but even if 1 billion genius and skilled painters draw an apple – still it is not a cezanne , just the same with a van-gogh sunflower.van-gogh stays van-gogh no matter how well and ingenious others draw the same scheme.

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    I’ll second Norman’s suggestion of Goldschmidt, although Decca’s Entartete series did cover some of it.

  • Stereo says:

    As we say in the profession,there’s always a reason why pieces aren’t played let alone recorded.

  • Rgiarola says:

    Now I started to like her!

  • do says:

    Myaskovsky and Shebalin.

  • batonbaton says:

    Furtwangler, Enescu, Klemperer, Dorati and other composer-conductors? That would make an interesting theme for a recording series

  • I’d say John Foulds, but the CBSO already recorded two albums of his orchestral works back with Oramo.

  • Tamino says:

    This thread is hilarious. A bus full of people, everyone shouting another desired destination. No gas in the tank. And nobody willing to fill it up.