RATTLED

The Berlin Philharmonic has been counting on Simon Rattle, its new music director, to infuse new life into the orchestra. But the conductor’s recipe for doing that has some a little nervous. “Rattle has made it clear that the Berliners will be lucky to get Brahms once a year, and should be thinking more in terms of Adès and Turnage. He told a German publication that the orchestra plays beautifully ‘but also very loudly’; that it will have to start justifying its annual subsidy; that it should stop turning its nose up at crossover music; that it should spend more time in Germany, instead of trying to be the touring orchestra with the best Tchaikovsky Fifth; that it can no longer expect people to roll up at its doors in time-honoured fashion.” – Financial Times

THE SOUND OF MUSIC

Some might call it that, but those little buzzy tunes and blurbles and bleeps emanating from our tools are becoming more and more intrusive. “Dangerous as it is to make predictions, electronic games, computers and the latest mobile phones all suggest that various unforeseen combinations of sound and image will come to dominate our work and leisure in the near future.” – The Age (Melbourne)

THE MUSEUM EXPERIENCE

Jazz was once a freeform of innovation. But the “back to basics” movement led by Wynton Marsalis has pulled jazz back to its roots, and the Lincoln Center jazz program has helped institutionalize it. Though many are happy about the turn away from cacophonous directions, some critics complain that jazz has become entombed in a museum. Statistics from the Recording Industry Association of America indicate that jazz claims less than two percent of the overall music market. – Miami New Times

THE DAY THE MUSIC DIED

What killed the venerable BMG’s classical music recording operations? “A run of pin-striped MBAs and former wine salesmen was put in charge of classics, only to depart before their signings cut a debut disc. On the rock side BMG flourished, winning a record 24 trophies at this year’s Grammy awards. BMG has annual revenues of $16.4 billion and owns 200 labels, including Ariola, Arista and Windham Hill. Classics amount to less than four per cent of turnover. When the bottom line reddened amid a general classical downturn, the division was swatted by an executive fist, like a flea on a giant’s hide. That is the way of the corporate world, and that is what is killing classical recording.” – The Telegraph (London)

TIME TO PLAY

Limited rehearsal time has limited more than one classical music performance: soloist jets into town in time for one run-through before the concert, and everyone waits to see what comes off. Now a few performers have taken the unusual (and expensive) step of hiring their own orchestras and exploring a work in marathon rehearsals before stepping onstage. – Philadelphia Inquirer

BRUCH THIS

Yikes – for the fifth year in a row Max Bruch has won top spot on the UK’s Classic FM poll of favorite composers. But then, what do you expect? “If you spoonfeed your audience a pappy diet of light classics and bite-sized chunks of larger works, all seasoned with the odd bit of cross-over, and then get them to vote for their favourites, the result is more or less a foregone conclusion. Pavlov couldn’t have conditioned his salivating dogs any more effectively.” – The Guardian