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OPUS KLASSIK 2019 Winners
OPUS KLASSIK is one of Germany's most important prizes in the field of classical music. This year the “Verein zur Förderung der Klassischen Musik“ (Association for the Support of Classical Music), which makes the awards, has announced that DG artist Andreas Ottensamer has won one of their top awards, namely the Opus Klassik Award for "Instrumentalist of the Year” (Clarinet), one of three instrumentalist awards.
”You don’t play classical music for prizes or fame, but OPUS KLASSIK gives us the perfect opportunity to celebrate the music itself, projects we worked on all together and also to appreciate the teams behind the projects“ says Ottensamer, whose album “Blue Hour“ was the subject of his award.
Further prizes to DG artists were awarded to Nadine Sierra as „Up and Coming Young Singer“, pianist Víkingur Ólafsson for is album „Johann Sebastian Bach“ in the category "solo recordings" and Bryn Terfel in the category „Classical without Borders“.
This year one of the new prizes is for the best music video of the year, in cooperation with the streaming platform IDAGIO. It will be awarded to Lang Lang’s music video “Für Elise”.
Gala Television Broadcast
The awards ceremony OPUS KLASSIK 2019 will take place on October 13th in the Konzerthaus Berlin and will be broadcast on the national public broadcaster ZDF from 22:15. Thomas Gottschalk will be moderating as he did last year. Andreas Ottensamer and Nadine Sierra, amongst other award winners, will be performing live at the concert hall and on the television broadcast.
DEUTSCHE GRAMMOPHON KICKS OFF YEAR-LONG CELEBRATION OF BEETHOVEN’S 250TH BIRTHDAY
“It’s music for our time and all time” – Andris Nelsons
3 September 2019 (Bonn, Germany) – Deutsche Grammophon today unveiled its major new Beethoven 2020 campaign at an exclusive launch event at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, marking the start of a new partnership between the research centre and the label that has recorded more of Beethoven’s music than any other. VIP guests and international media were invited to get a first look at The New Complete Edition – a remarkable new box set and digital series featuring over 250 artists and 175 hours of music – and hear from four key figures who will be celebrating the composer’s 250th anniversary: world-renowned conductor Andris Nelsons; celebrated violinist and incoming President of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, Daniel Hope; Malte Boecker, Executive Director of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn and Artistic Director of BTHVN2020; and President of Deutsche Grammophon, Dr Clemens Trautmann.
The centrepiece of the campaign is Beethoven – The New Complete Edition, which will be released on 8 November 2019. This 123-disc limited edition has been created in partnership with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn and compiled in collaboration with Decca and ten other labels. It includes a new essay written by Professor Dr Christine Siegert, Director of the Beethoven Archive. This new collection represents the most up-to-date and comprehensive anthology of Beethoven’s music ever, recorded by some of the world’s greatest performers from Böhm to Brendel, Menuhin to Mutter and Perahia to Pollini. It includes a number of world premiere recordings: superstar pianist Lang Lang plays the little-known Menuett in C major (WoO 218) and Daniel Hope performs nine fragments or movements, including the last musical thought Beethoven wrote before his death. These are available now as a standalone digital album entitled “Rarities”, with many other recordings in the box set to be released digitally in the coming months.
“This selection of prize-winning recordings, rare gems and previously unreleased new recordings is a wellspring of musical inspiration and a perfect starting point for an extensive discovery of Beethoven’s legacy,” notes Malte Boecker of the Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Daniel Hope adds that he is “honoured to have recorded newly discovered works by Beethoven for the first time, in conjunction with the meticulous and scholarly work of the Beethoven-Haus”.
Watch the trailer for The New Complete Edition: https://youtu.be/1arM2wlhCsQ
Deutsche Grammophon also has an ambitious array of new Beethoven releases. Andris Nelsons and the Wiener Philharmoniker are joining forces to record all nine symphonies – a project that promises to reveal the compelling partnership between the conductor acclaimed by Die Zeit as “a force of nature” and the most renowned Beethoven orchestra in the world. The new cycle, released on 4 October 2019, is presented in a deluxe box with five CDs and a single Blu-ray Audio disc in TrueHD sound quality. Nelsons and the orchestra will perform complete cycles of the symphonies next year in Paris, Hamburg, Munich and Vienna. Legendary Beethoven interpreter Maurizio Pollini will offer his mature thoughts on the composer’s late piano sonatas in a brand-new release. He will also perform at Munich’s Herkulessaal on 27 September 2019 in a special concert to kick off Beethoven’s 250th-anniversary campaign.
A new album from Jan Lisiecki, released on 13 September 2019, features the acclaimed young pianist’s fresh and insightful interpretations of the five piano concertos, in which he directs the Academy of St Martin in the Fields from the keyboard. A host of other Beethoven albums are set to follow in 2020. Award-winning pianist Víkingur Ólafsson presents his interpretation of the beloved “Moonlight” Sonata, Daniel Hope turns narrator for Beethoven for Children and Matthias Goerne explores the rich expressive range of Beethoven’s Lieder.
Further anniversary-year highlights include Rudolf Buchbinder’s Diabelli 2020 project, which pairs Beethoven’s famous set of piano variations with specially commissioned responses from today’s major composers including Brett Dean, Max Richter, Lera Auerbach, Krzysztof Penderecki, Rodion Shchedrin and Jörg Widmann; and Krystian Zimerman’s own distinctive survey of the complete piano concertos.
“Beethoven’s world was turned upside down when he was still a young man,” observes Dr Clemens Trautmann, President of Deutsche Grammophon. “He was only in his late twenties when his hearing – the sense most vital to a composer – began to fail. By his mid-forties he was almost totally deaf. And yet he went on to write many of his greatest works long after he could no longer hear them in performance. The 250th anniversary of his birth is the time to reflect on Beethoven’s courage, a time to tell stories about his refusal to be silenced, a time to ‘Play on, play against all odds’. We’re delighted to work with our partners at the Beethoven-Haus Bonn and to be implementing a range of ambitious global digital initiatives that will open fresh perspectives on the composer’s art. Beethoven will be at the heart of the Yellow Label’s programme, in recordings, online and in performance, from now until January 2021.”
The “Play on” spirit pervades Deutsche Grammophon’s digital anniversary projects and social media initiatives. As well as a brand-new website (www.beethoven-playon.com), there will be a playlist of historical Beethoven recordings made newly available as part of The Shellac Project, DG’s collaborative restoration project with Google Arts & Culture, through which digitised recordings are created from original matrices. In addition, there will be a new year-long video series from leading international music critics introducing 25 cult Beethoven albums. To bring these digital projects to life, there will also be a series of live events – from Beethoven Yellow Lounge events worldwide to a rich and illuminating BTHVN2020 programme with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn. Further projects and partnerships will be announced shortly.
In the lead-up to Beethoven’s 250th anniversary on 17 December 2020, Deutsche Grammophon will celebrate the composer’s musical legacy and shine a light on the works which have made him one of history’s most enduring figures. Together with the Beethoven-Haus Bonn, the label aims to bring together a combination of pioneering scholarship and matchless artistic achievement to showcase the composer in the digital age. Play on!
Wilhelm Furtwängler – Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon and Decca marks 65th anniversary of great conductor’s death
Who was the greatest conductor of all time? For many the answer can only be Wilhelm Furtwängler. The German musician, born in Berlin in 1886, secured global fame in the 1930s as music director of the Berliner Philharmoniker. While his involvement in Nazi cultural politics cast a long shadow over his reputation, his recordings bear witness to a magician capable of revealing fresh insights into even the best-known compositions.
Deutsche Grammophon’s Heritage Team has created a landmark new edition that offers cross-section comparisons of the conductor’s career in all its remarkable creative phases. Wilhelm Furtwängler – Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon and Decca, set for international release on 27 September 2019 to mark the 65th anniversary of his death, comprises 34 CDs, a DVD of his irresistible 1954 Salzburg Festival Don Giovanni performance, and in-depth essays and analysis from critic and blogger Norman Lebrecht and broadcaster Rob Cowan.
Lebrecht provides a nuanced assessment of the conservative-nationalist Furtwängler’s world view in his notes to the edition and in an accompanying video blog series. “There is nothing morally admirable about Furtwängler the man,” he concludes. “The music is another matter.”
Interest in Furtwängler’s music-making has arguably never been stronger. Wilhelm Furtwängler – Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon and Decca offers collectors and first-time listeners alike the chance to explore every facet of his work.
The set features his debut recording, a compelling account of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony made with the Berliner Philharmoniker in 1926, benchmark interpretations of Haydn’s Symphony No.88 and Schumann’s Fourth Symphony from the early 1950s, and a peerless performance of Brahms’s Second Piano Concerto recorded in 1942 with Edwin Fischer as soloist. Among other highlights are overwhelming readings of Bruckner’s Eighth and Ninth Symphonies, the former made with the Wiener Philharmoniker, the latter with the Berliner Philharmoniker, both recorded in October 1944 as Hitler’s Reich was being reduced to rubble. Also included are the conductor’s recordings for Decca, now available complete for the first time, and a number of rare Japanese remasterings, previously inaccessible outside Japan.
Deutsche Grammophon’s new Furtwängler anthology covers the full spectrum of the conductor’s symphonic repertoire. The “treasure-trove here on offer,” observes Rob Cowan, “often defies belief for its impact and intuitive grasp of what sits at the soul of the music played”. Furtwängler’s experience as a composer and profound study of the formal structures of the symphony informed his awe-inspiring interpretations of Beethoven, Brahms and Bruckner. No matter how fluid his tempos or extreme his dynamic contrasts, he always sought to show the organic nature of every work he performed: “Every whole,” he wrote shortly before his death in 1954, “must be ‘simple’ in its own way, and by seeing it as a whole we are making it simple.”
The edition embraces his lightness of touch in such early Polydor recordings as Mendelssohn’s “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and Rossini’s La gazza ladra overtures. It also captures the full gravity of post-war radio recordings of, among many others, Beethoven’s Große Fuge, Brahms’s First Symphony and Beethoven’s Violin Concerto. Listeners can explore the nature of Furtwängler’s recordings from before, during and after the Second World War; compare his work with the Berliner Philharmoniker and the Wiener Philharmoniker, or of the same composition with different soloists; and judge the respective qualities of his live and studio recordings. The latter include the Yellow Label’s 1951 recording of Furtwängler’s monumental Second Symphony, which he conducted often during his final years, and a sequence of recordings for Decca, César Franck’s Symphony in D minor legendary among them.
The son of an archaeologist father and artist mother, Wilhelm Furtwängler was a prodigiously talented child. His patrician family arranged for him to be privately educated – he excelled at music, began composing at the age of seven and received composition lessons from Joseph Rheinberger and Max von Schillings. Furtwängler’s early works, including a symphony, were ambitious if conservative in style; he chose conducting as a career, however, in order to make a living following his father’s early death and to develop his understanding of the art of musical interpretation. Wilhelm Furtwängler – Complete Recordings on Deutsche Grammophon and Decca ideally illustrates his manner of building an interpretation with an extract from a 1930 rehearsal of Richard Strauss’s Till Eulenspiegels lustige Streiche with the Berlin Philharmoniker and a selection of radio interviews in which he discusses (in German) such matters as tempo, style, acoustics and audiences.
“Critics are forever positing this or that modern maestro as a possible successor to Furtwängler. Dream on is what I say. Sixty-five years after his death, and we’re still waiting.”
Rob Cowan, Classic FM presenter and Furtwängler expert
A WAGNERIAN MASTER
Christian Thielemann conducts Bayreuth’s acclaimed new production of Lohengrin
The exclusive audiovisual partnership between two cultural powerhouses, the Bayreuth Festival and Deutsche Grammophon, has already resulted in three landmark Wagner productions since 2016 – Tristan und Isolde, Parsifal and Die Meistersinger von Nürnberg. On 5 July 2019, a spellbinding production of Lohengrin from July 2018, conducted by Bayreuth’s music director Christian Thielemann and directed by Yuval Sharon, will become the fourth instalment of this iconic Wagner edition to be released on DVD/Blu-ray and as an eVideo album.
Thielemann has a gold-standard cast at his command: making his Bayreuth debut as Lohengrin (an inspired last-minute replacement for Roberto Alagna), Polish tenor Piotr Beczala impressed Opera News: ‘He took the house by storm … with a performance of astounding assurance and incomparable beauty.’ Also appearing at Bayreuth for the first time was the peerless soprano Anja Harteros, who is much loved by German audiences but a less frequent visitor to other international opera houses. This recording of her ‘glowing, full-throated, well-judged Elsa’ (Financial Times) will allow the whole world to enjoy her dramatic and vocal skills. Mezzo-soprano Waltraud Meier, returning to Bayreuth for the first time in 18 years, gives a masterclass in technique with her portrayal of Ortrud as rebellious freedom fighter rather than one-dimensional wicked witch. Her partner in crime, Telramund, is sung forcefully by Tomasz Konieczny, while Georg Zeppenfeld is an authoritative and charismatic King Henry, combining Italianate flair with perfect German diction.
The conductor and his Festival Orchestra are captured at their very best in this recording, with playing of “luminous transparency” (Financial Times) adding to the magical fairy-tale atmosphere conjured by the blue-washed sets and costumes designed by leading German artists Neo Rauch and Rosa Loy, members of the New Leipzig School who are admired for both their individual and their collaborative work. Thielemann is on masterful form here, uncovering unexpected details in the score and at times unleashing moments of explosive power. The outstanding Bayreuth chorus is choreographed by the director into visually arresting tableaux, aided by Rauch’s transparent gauzes and the lighting of Reinhard Traub.
Rising director Yuval Sharon, the first American to direct at Bayreuth, offers a subtly feminist reading of this tenth-century tale, which explores the conflict between Norse paganism and Christianity. In a male-dominated, martial medieval kingdom Sharon highlights the bond between Elsa and Ortrud, and changes the ending to show Elsa as a survivor, walking off into the sunset carrying an orange backpack given to her by Lohengrin. As the New York Times observes: “This Lohengrin offers tradition to traditionalists and a critique to progressives. Because it has something for everyone … it might just become as admired as the Hans Neuenfels staging it replaces.”
Lohengrin returns to Bayreuth for seven performances in July and August 2019. The DVD, BluRay and eVideo album release of this production is a further contribution to the celebrations for Christian Thielemann’s 60th birthday, which also include the publication of the book Christian Thielemann Dirigieren/Conducting – a revealing insight into the conductor’s art – and a comprehensive edition of his orchestral works on DG.
THE ERNST HAEFLIGER EDITION
Deutsche Grammophon’s Ernst Haefliger Edition commemorates one of the last century’s greatest lyric tenors. Centenary boxed set includes tracks new to CD and first international releases. Twenty-five tracks released as Ernst Haefliger Essentials digital album
For generations of music-lovers Ernst Haefliger was a prince among Bach singers and a masterful interpreter of the major Mozart tenor roles. Others discovered his beautiful lyric voice through his recordings of Italian opera or the great German song cycles. The Swiss tenor, whose centenary falls on 6 July 2019, is sure to win new fans with the international release on 28 June of The Ernst Haefliger Edition, an elegantly-packaged boxed set drawn from his acclaimed Deutsche Grammophon catalogue. It will also be possible to download or stream the edition – with much of this material becoming digitally available for the first time – while a twenty-five-track digital selection will be released as Ernst Haefliger Essentials.
The Ernst Haefliger Edition comprises a carefully curated collection of a dozen CDs that showcase the tenor’s versatility. It contains everything from arias by Bach and Handel, made in partnership with Karl Richter, to excerpts from Mozart and Rossini operas. The tracklist also includes Janáček’s The Diary of One Who Disappeared, sung in German with Rafael Kubelík at the piano; rarely heard songs by Schoeck and Kodály; rondos and ballades by the medieval French composer-poet Guillaume de Machaut; and extracts from late-Romantic works by Bruckner, Mahler and Wagner.
The set features the first-ever CD release of Haefliger’s recordings of Beethoven’s “Ich liebe dich, so wie du mich” and “Adelaide” and Adam’s “Der Postillon von Lonjumeau”, as well as the first international release on CD of his readings of Schumann’s Dichterliebe and Schubert’s Die schöne Müllerin, Winterreise and Schwanengesang. The accompanying booklet notes include reflections from his children: pianist Andreas Haefliger, Lucerne Festival Executive and Artistic Director Michael Haefliger and actress Christine Marecek.
Haefliger was born in Davos on 6 July 1919. Although music was central to his upbringing, he initially trained to become a teacher and studied singing at the Zurich Conservatory to prepare for classroom life. Spotted by conductor Volkmar Andreae, he made his debut at twenty-three as the Evangelist in Bach’s St John Passion. His international breakthrough came at the 1949 Salzburg Festival, where he appeared as the first armoured man in Die Zauberflöte under Wilhelm Furtwängler.
The tenor’s command of bel canto technique, his feeling for words and their expression, and his personal modesty helped sustain a career that lasted more than sixty years. In 1995 he performed Winterreise with his pianist son in New York, London and Milan. “He worked with me as if we were equals,” remembers Andreas. “It was as if he were passing the torch from one generation to the next.”
Following Ernst Haefliger’s death in March 2007, the Telegraph (London) praised his “consummate musicianship, supreme interpretations and purity of tone [which] could hold audiences spellbound for hours” and recalled his signature role in these terms: “his many performances of the Evangelist in the Bach Passions … set a standard to which many aspired yet few attained”.
LANG LANG RELEASES INNOVATIVE NEW ALEXA SKILL
Inspirational pianist invites music-lovers to join him on Lang Lang’s Musical Journey
When it comes to music education, Lang Lang is a master. The legendary Chinese classical pianist, an inspiration to millions around the globe, is on a mission to share his love of piano music with as many people as possible. Having recently released Piano Book, his latest album on Deutsche Grammophon, Lang Lang has now joined forces Amazon Alexa and DG to create an innovative, artist-driven Alexa skill - Lang Lang’s Musical Journey, which launches on 24 May 2019.
In each episode Lang Lang will talk about a recent event from his life as a professional musician, drawing attention to a specific piece of music. As well as introducing this in general terms he will offer a series of performance tips at the piano.
The skill, available in the English-speaking countries Australia and New Zealand, India, the UK and Ireland, the US and Canada, is on Alexa-enabled devices and can be activated through the Alexa Skills Store via the Alexa app or on Amazon.com. Users owning an Alexa-enabled device with a screen, such as Echo Show or Echo Spot, can enjoy some segments of each episode in video format.
“I’ve had the pleasure of performing with some of the greatest orchestras and most talented people in music today, and I’m dedicated to spreading my love of the piano across the world,” says Lang Lang. “If anyone out there would like to know more about me and my life in music, or would like tips on playing the piano, or guidance on exploring some of the most exciting and interesting music written for the piano, I’d like to invite them to enable the skill and say to Alexa,‘Start Lang Lang’s Musical Journey