“Julius Asal’s piano playing immediately astonished me. I don’t know how he found
his uniquely sonorous sound. The instrument seemed to tell him a secret.”
A first double single featuring Scarlatti’s Sonata in C minor, K. 56 and
Scriabin’s Prelude in B flat major, Op. 11 No. 21 comes out this Friday, 27 October
Deutsche Grammophon is delighted to announce the exclusive signing of Julius Asal. The 26-year-old pianist, hailed by Klassik Heute for the “elemental energies” he brings to his playing and his “phenomenal gift for subtle mood changes”, has enchanted audiences and critics alike with his musical sensitivity and poetic expression. Asal is also blessed with a rare talent for programme curation and the ability to improvise in an astonishing variety of styles.
“It is a great honour to join Deutsche Grammophon and a wonderful opportunity for me to explore innovative programmes,” says Julius Asal. “I look forward to recording music that is open to the serious and the playful, to cool logic and fiery emotions, to bold ideas and intimate feelings.”
Christian Badzura, Deutsche Grammophon’s Vice President A&R New Repertoire, discovered Julius Asal thanks to the algorithms of Instagram and began following him online. “I liked his aura,” he notes. “It was clear that he is a serious musician. I contacted his management and Julius was soon playing one of the Brahms sonatas for me. His sound at all dynamic levels is extraordinary. He played one of the most beautiful full-chord fortissimos I’ve ever heard! And he’s a great thinker, not least in terms of putting together different compositions and making them work as a complete programme. You can see that in the concept behind his first recording for DG and the effortless way the pieces it contains flow together.”
Julius Asal’s DG debut album, set for release next year, combines music by two composers who might not seem like obvious companions. Scriabin – Scarlatti interleaves Alexander Scriabin’s Piano Sonata No. 1 in F minor Op. 6 and pieces selected from the Russian composer’s 12 Etudes Op. 8 and 24 Preludes Op. 11 with six sonatas by Domenico Scarlatti and a pair of improvisatory Scriabin reworks by Asal himself. He used two different grand pianos for the recording, one distinguished by sumptuous dark sonorities, the other by its clear, crisp sound. Scriabin – Scarlatti will also be released in an alternative version recorded on upright piano. Asal prefaces and closes Scriabin – Scarlatti with the “Quasi niente” section from the “Funebre” movement of Scriabin’s F minor Sonata, leaving the listener to question whether the album’s musical journey is over or just about to begin. His curatorial plan was directly inspired by Christopher Nolan’s Oscar-winning science fiction film Inception, in which the director probed lucid dreaming and its multiple levels of simultaneous representation.
DG will be showcasing Asal’s artistry over the coming months by releasing a series of singles from the album. The first of these – Scarlatti’s fiery Sonata in C minor, K. 56 and an intimate upright piano version of Scriabin’s Prelude in B flat major, Op. 11 No. 21 – will be available from 27 October.
Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon, is delighted to welcome the young pianist to the Yellow Label. “Julius is one of those musicians who commands your attention with quiet authority and leads you on a creative journey. There’s something sublime about his artistry, impossible to express in words but always deeply moving. He’s also a natural improviser and an acute thinker about repertoire and programming, part of a package of all-round skills that is sure to develop far into the future.”
Julius Asal was born into a family of musicians in 1997 and grew up near the Taunus mountains north of Frankfurt. He learned to play the piano by ear during early childhood and was improvising fluently by the time he received his first piano lessons at the age of eight. He continued to develop his talents as an improviser and arranger while building his technical and musical skills as a student at the Hoch Conservatory in Frankfurt, the Frankfurt University of Music and Performing Arts and the Hanns Eisler School of Music Berlin.
In 2021 Asal joined the Sir András Schiff Performance Programme for Young Pianists at the Kronberg Academy. He has also learned invaluable lessons from masterclass and chamber music sessions with, among others, Christoph Eschenbach, Kirill Gerstein, Gidon Kremer, Steven Isserlis, Eldar Nebolsin, Menahem Pressler, Antje Weithaas and Tabea Zimmermann. A finalist in the 2017 Busoni International Piano Competition and winner of the New York-based Young Concert Artists European Auditions, he has performed at many of the world’s leading classical music venues, including Wigmore Hall in London, New York’s Merkin Concert Hall, the Musikverein in Vienna and Laeiszhalle Hamburg.