Decca’s new star needs greater diversity

Decca’s new star needs greater diversity

Album Of The Week

norman lebrecht

July 23, 2021

From the Lebrecht Album of the Week:

….Randall Goosby, 25, is Decca’s new poster-boy violinist.

With an African-American father and Korean mother, he has been groomed for a stage career by Itzhak Perlman and the Juilliard fame school. He has major-league management in London and New York and a pleasant way of engaging with media. What could possibly go wrong?….

Read on here.

And here.

En francais ici.

In Spanish here.

In Czech here.

In The Critic.


  • Tiredofitall says:

    Unnecessarily snide article. Judgement should be made when Mr. Goosby fully demonstrates what he has during public performances, not fresh out of the box with a teaser recording.

  • Dan P. says:

    To respond to your article: Why does he “need” to perform any particular repertoire piece. And, do we actually need yet another recording of a Brahms sonata, especially one by a violinist who has yet to mature? It’s nice to have a chance to hear music we don’t often (or ever) hear and one should be grateful. It was a smart idea to do what he did. Please try to tamp down the arrogance, ok?

  • RW2013 says:

    No Joplin?

  • John Borstlap says:

    A VERY ironic title which only becomes clear after reading the CD review.

    It seems all about fashionable wrapping paper.

    If I were a diverse composer I would be offended by being included in a diversity PR exercise.

  • Bill says:

    This reader feels short-changed.

  • New York Music says:

    He’s a fantastic musician and teacher. Surprised he doesn’t have a teaching career already. Juilliard should hire him.

  • Juilliard Rep says:

    His teacher Ms. Cho must be very proud of him as he is the star of the studio. What a great leader to have in Ms. Cho’s class.

  • BRUCEB says:

    Methinks they kind of have to “market” him as a new artist, the way a competition winner is expected to release an album of showpieces.

    Haven’t heard it, except for a couple of clips, but it looks like a pretty decent mixture of old/familiar (Dvorak, Gershwin-Heifetz), names we’ve seen but not necessarily heard (Price, Still), and actual new pieces (Foley, Perkinson). Aside from the fact that some of the composers are Black, it looks like a pretty typical debut CD. It says “I’m not afraid of music that’s off the beaten path, but I promise I’ll be nice about it. And here’s some basic repertoire, where you can compare me to violinists you’ve already heard.”

    Much safer than concentrating on repertoire that large segments of the market might find off-putting, and being pigeonholed as “that violinist who only plays spiky contemporary music [or whatever].”

  • PianistW says:

    The diversity / empowering / political correctness / label-giving / one-way-of-thinking police will be delighted with this violinist regardless of his quality as a performer.

    • Tom Clowes says:

      Do you routinely dismiss hyper-talented young musicians’ skills simply because they’re Black, or just this one?

  • Stuart says:

    More white folks at the top “selling” darkies. Thank GOD they’re liberals!

    • Tokenism amongst the left...again says:

      True; top agency ceos are still very Democrat and white. No ‘progress’ still for those arrogant lefties.

      This type of “HEAY; we have a black too” is insulting to all black people along with everyone else because his racial identity is highlighted and supersedes any talent he may possess. It does him and others a disservice as fleeting as fame is in the entertainment industry.

      • Tom Clowes says:

        Seems like you’re dismissing this hyper-talented young artist simply because of his skin color. Base what you say about him on the quality of his artistry – which by all accounts is phenomenal – not on the color of his skin.

        • Omar E. says:

          No other races have privileged treatment based on their race.
          It’s black only!

          Never native Americans, Hispanics, Jews, Indians, middle-easterners of any stripe or authentically Africans only rarely while only American blacks get used by white masters like Decca which remains controlled by a male, white, liberal.

          It’s sad to see another black person used by a leftist to make money off of but Democrats formed the kkk so it’s no longer a surprise.

  • M McAlpine says:

    I never know why a producer would launch a young artist with a crossover program like this. For goodness sake, if he is a serious artist, give him a serious program.

  • FB says:

    How on EARTH can you blame the producer for your quibbles with rep and recital partner? That was frankly a fatuous and uniformed statement. These decisions are STRICTLY between the artist and the label. He has played with this pianist for years and probably felt very comfortable with him. And by the way, the pianist’s name is not even on the album cover, which as a collaborative pianist myself I consider to be the worst of artistic sins. It’s not a solo album.

  • David K. Nelson says:

    I have not even heard the disc yet I disagree with the review (except for the praise for the violinist’s playing, and being unable to comment on the criticism of a overly-reticent pianist).

    First of all a man of 25 is not a boy, poster or otherwise

    Second, the contents strike me as a clever and interesting “ways of viewing America” concept without getting so didactic as to lose sight of the essential entertainment function of the enterprise.

    Xavier Dubois Foley and Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson — likely new to many violin fanciers, and they’d be new to me. William Grant Still, not just worth hearing, but also the standard for comparison for his violin pieces is none other than Louis Kaufman. I guess Florence Price’s time has come; I do not know her violin pieces. She wrote two violin concertos (the MSs for which were found in an abandoned house!) so I have to assume she studied or was aided in learning how to write for the instrument. We can think of those four composers as “first hand” American music, although Price was (and one could argue, Still was as well) clearly following Antonín Dvořák’s directive that American composers really needed to look to American indigenous examples rather than sound like ersatz Germans, and his charming and fun-to-play Sonatina was meant as a sort of “here is what I mean” example, with barn dance/Irish/Scottish (a nod to the melting pot notion and still indigenous as reflected in the New World Symphony’s sources), mixed with Native American, perhaps Black church, and definitely some revivalist Gospel tent/Jubilee stuff, deliberately written to be within reach of more players and more listeners than his stern and under-loved Sonata for Violin and Piano.

    Gershwin is first hand American music but second-hand Black American music, with Heifetz’s Auer-school difficulty-piled-upon-difficulty violin pyrotechnics adaptations of even the simplest Gershwin tune adding a sort of third hand distance from anything like an original.

    And as with the Still pieces and Louis Kaufman, here we have a young violinist forcing a comparison with Heifetz’s own fearsome recordings of the Gershwin.

    Again I have not heard the disc (I have sampled examples of Goosby’s violinism) but it sounds like a worthy debut to me, and after 15 years of reviewing almost only violin recordings for Fanfare (I might have reviewed 1000 CDs over that time) I think I know what a violin debut disc should do: strike out some fresh territory and allow for comparisons with established masters. There will be time enough for Monti’s Czardas and the Sarasate/Wieniawski chestnuts.

  • Tom Clowes says:

    It’s disappointing to read Lebrecht suggest that a Brahms violin sonata would make for a more interesting program than the repertoire on this album, which is in fact truly innovative and distinctive in a way yet another recording of a Brahms sonata wouldn’t be.

    • John Borstlap says:

      Indeed. Nothing irritates me more than those creepy Brahms sonatas where nothing ever happens.


  • Tom Clowes says:

    It’s also hard to imagine a review of a White violinist’s debut album headlined with the proclamation that they “need greater diversity.” C’mon Norman. Be better.

  • Pianofortissimo says:

    Cross-nailded in swarming intersections.

  • japecake says:

    Mere box-checking is never a good way to construct a program. On a related note, historical interest and musical interest are two completely different things when it comes to music.

    • Tom Clowes says:

      You’re assuming that the selection of rep was based on “box-checking.” Indeed we can safely assume this violinist chose these composers because he loved their writing and felt he had a lot to say in his interpretations of them.

  • fflambeau says:

    His Chinese accompanist is also very good, although he displays excessive head movement which is quite distracting. I liked the musical selections on this debut album which give a widespread notion of Goosby’s abilities and represent most musical types (I especially liked the Florence Price selection), which seem great. Well done, and I approached this skeptically!

  • Colin Mendez Morris says:

    A snarky title to a review of a fresh new Black talent and a typical old white man dismissal of Florence Price by a leading critic. This is the reason classical music is losing listeners. Your bias is disappointing to say the least. The young man has chosen music that has meaning to his experience and background. On the heels of the Zuckerman masterclass debacle I think you should not use “diversity” as a play on words. Normie’s comments smack of implicit bias, irresponsibility and eventual irrelevance to the very classical music fans he hopes to attract.

  • norman lebrecht says:

    From Dominic Fyfe, label director, Decca Classics:
    In the review linked to the July 23rd article about Randall’s debut album on Decca you suggest that David Frost was to “blame” for the repertoire selection and choice of accompanist. This is not the case. The discussions and decisions about both were made solely between myself and Randall. I engaged David Frost to produce the sessions, edit and mix the recording, nothing more.