What characterises a record label in rude, dynamic health? Well, a vibrant roster of artists has to be very near the top of the list of “must haves”. Once the home of legends – Karajan, Bernstein, Horowitz – Deutsche Grammophon has managed to maintain that aim of securing the services of the finest artists, but has done it in a way that feels fresh and forward-looking. Recent signings have seen stars of the younger generation such as Anna Netrebko, Elina Garanca, Vadim Repin and Gustavo Dudamel join the roster. And the news this month that Pierre-Laurent Aimard has signed to the Yellow Label is proof that the “middle” generation is not being neglected either. And there are the established artists who have been ensuring the label’s quality and range – Anne-Sophie Mutter, Maurizio Pollini, Claudio Abbado, Mischa Maisky, Bryn Terfel and Anne Sofie von Otter, to pluck out a handful. Each has something unique to say about his or her chosen music – and over the past year these individual voices have been given the opportunity to sing as only they can.Choice of repertoire has always been one of DG’s great strengths – sure, at its core comes the great Austro-German repertoire that forms the staple of the world of classical music on record and in the concert-hall, but the association with a composer like Osvaldo Golijov reveals a shrewd finger on the pulse of what’s capturing the music-loving public’s imagination (New Yorkers might recently have wondered whether their Mostly Mozart festival wouldn’t have been more accurately styled Mostly Golijov). On the early music front, there are exciting projects, too: like the great works of the repertoire reinvigorated by Paul McCreesh, the thrilling violin-playing of Giuliano Carmignola and the fascinating Baroque operatic rescues by Alan Curtis. All these combine to nourish the argument that “old” music, by the virtue of its often being heard for the first time in hundreds of years, is actually “new” music!
Once the label whose iconic yellow cartouche would stand out on the LP bins in your local record store, DG seems to us at Gramophone to have recaptured that very special position in the world of recorded classical music.