Deutsche Grammophon announce new exclusive contract with Daniel Barenboim

BERLIN, 8 March 2018 – Daniel Barenboim, one of the world’s greatest classical artists and a staunch champion of music’s civilising power, has signed a new and exclusive contract with Deutsche Grammophon. The partnership was announced on 8 March 2018, just days after the first anniversary of the Pierre Boulez Saal, Maestro Barenboim’s pioneering project devoted to the promotion of cultural exchange and dialogue.

The Berlin connection will be significant throughout his new and future recordings for the yellow label – Barenboim will work with the Staatskapelle Berlin, the Staatsoper unter den Linden, the Boulez Ensemble and members of the Barenboim-Said Akademie. Many of his recordings will be made in the flexible space of the Boulez Saal, home to the Barenboim-Said Akademie, a centre for the cultivation of communication, listening and understanding.

“I welcome this exclusive relationship with Deutsche Grammophon and believe that it will introduce the philosophy of the Pierre Boulez Saal, with its vision of the ‘thinking ear’ and of active, engaged listening, to a large new audience,” says Daniel Barenboim. “We want to share what happens when performers explore music on all levels – emotional, sensory, spiritual, intellectual – and open minds to the understanding and insights that this can bring to our lives. There is so much that music can teach us about being human, about healing division and harmonising the rational and the irrational, the logical and the intuitive.”

Deutsche Grammophon intends to develop three distinct recording series: Barenboim, the Pianist and Conductor, Barenboim the Chamber Music Player and Barenboim, the Educator and Innovator. The latter will take the form of digital-only releases on Daniel Barenboim’s own label, Peral Music, and will be complemented by social media campaigns, a strong YouTube presence and programmes for children’s television. Maestro Barenboim’s YouTube channel has attracted around 40,000 subscribers since its launch in 2016, while his video postings have been viewed almost one million times. He will also reach young television viewers as a character in Max & Maestro, a 52-part cartoon series co-produced by RAI, France Television and ARD-HR, in which he introduces 11-year-old rapper Max to classical music.

His interpretation of Boulez’s sur Incises, recorded live during the opening concert at the Boulez Saal last March, was released on Peral on 2 March 2018.

Two physical albums are set for release this summer, marking the start of the “Summertime with Barenboim” campaign. Maestro Barenboim’s mature reflections on the four symphonies of Brahms, recorded with the Staatskapelle Berlin, and his recording of Mozart’s two piano quartets with Michael Barenboim, Kian Soltani and Yulia Deyneka, will be issued in July. Future albums will feature both established DG stars and newer members of the yellow label family. Projects include, for example, Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with Kian Soltani and the Staatskapelle Berlin, and Smetana’s Má Vlast with the Wiener Philharmoniker. There are also plans to mark Beethoven’s 250th anniversary in 2020 with major releases featuring such leading artists as Anne-Sophie Mutter and Yo-Yo Ma. Maestro Barenboim and the Staatskapelle Berlin will perform Brahms’s symphonies during their tour to China and Australia this November.

“Daniel Barenboim has done so much to communicate the highest values of classical music to audiences around the world,” notes Dr Clemens Trautmann, President Deutsche Grammophon. “The Maestro made his first recording for the yellow label over forty-five years ago and we are delighted to continue the relationship with this new collaboration, one that reflects his passions as musician, humanist, educator and innovator. We look forward to exploring a wide spectrum of music with one of the greatest and most versatile classical musicians of all time and sharing his art with an equally wide global audience.”

Frank Briegmann, President & CEO Universal Music Central Europe and Deutsche Grammophon: “Daniel Barenboim’s passion has never been purely for the music alone, but also for the people who create it, who listen to it, and whose lives it changes. He always pursues ambitious goals through his work and dedication, be it by training young artists, or in his humanitarian work and international understanding. This makes me all the more pleased that the renewal and related intensification of our collaboration means we can present classical music lovers with even more outstanding moments from and with Daniel Barenboim in the future.”


Daniel Barenboim - DEBUSSY Préludes I

A journey of the senses through Debussy's piano music

Shortly before his 75th birthday, Daniel Barenboim recorded a hand-picked selection of solo piano pieces by Claude Debussy – a tribute to the composer, who passed away 100 years ago. Together with Barenboim’s earlier recording of the first book of Préludes, these form the richly multi-faceted programme of his latest album for Deutsche Grammophon, set for international release on 19 January 2018

Claude Debussy was an innovator in late 19th-century piano music, ingeniously and open-mindedly exploiting the instrument’s vast tonal potential. Daniel Barenboim here explores the composer’s revolutionary spirit in performances that highlight the timbral colour and sensuality of some of his most important keyboard works. Deutsche Grammophon will release the pianist’s new album on 19 January to coincide with the Debussy centenary.

Inspired by his first efforts in orchestral composition, Debussy created piano works rich in musical imagery and atmosphere. At times playful and whimsical, at others gracious and dreamy, but always formally perfect, his pieces are veritable gems of the piano literature.

The album’s repertoire reflects Debussy’s compositional finesse and versatility. Alongside the delicate musical images of Estampes, the programme includes one of his best-known works, “Clair de lune” from the Suite bergamasque, which Barenboim also considers “one of the absolute masterpieces”. The leisurely waltz La plus que lente unfolds with subtle irony, followed by the halting, delicate melancholy of the Elégie, composed in 1915. The album is crowned by the first book of Préludes, dating from 1909-10 and, on account of its poetic expressive power, occupying a unique place in Debussy’s output. The composer translated the literary associations that sparked his imagination into widely contrasting musical dream-images that enchant us with their thrilling virtuosity or tender lyricism. Barenboim recorded Préludes I in 1998 at the Institut Pere Mata in Reus, Catalonia and has chosen to include the collection here alongside the works he recorded in Berlin in the autumn of 2017.

“Let me be considered as what I really am – the creator of a new way of thinking in musical tones, and thereby of a new aesthetic and a new grammar. Do not use traditional ideas of classification to pigeonhole something that seeks to escape from those very ideas. Recognise Debussy for what he is.” The composer described his own creativity in those words, urgently appealing for an unbiased response to his music. Daniel Barenboim gives just such a response on his new album. “Debussy altered the course of European music history enormously,” says the artist, “coining a wholly new musical language and conception of tonal colours.” Debussy’s chief sources of inspiration were literature and nature. Barenboim sees him as a founding father of musical Modernism whose compositions elude stylistic categorisation. Listening to Barenboim’s interpretations, one witnesses a sculptor of sound at work – he immerses himself in this music, taking evident delight in the discoveries made along the way.

During his years as principal conductor of the Orchestre de Paris – from 1975 to 1989 – Barenboim made an intensive study of Debussy’s harmonic and rhythmic innovations and his extraordinary palette of tonal colours while preparing a number of the composer’s orchestral works for concert performance. That wealth of experience has also enriched Barenboim’s examination of Debussy’s piano works, enabling him to realise their orchestral dimensions by means of his agility and range of colours at the keyboard. Served by sensuous, grounded and powerful playing, the pianist becomes a gripping storyteller who masterfully sustains the music’s broad arches and enlivens each piece with immediate intensity and a potent sense of atmosphere.

Daniel Barenboim ranks among the most extraordinary artistic figures of our time. Both as pianist and conductor, he has made his name with recordings of engaging musicality and artistic maturity. He has served as artistic director and Generalmusikdirektor of the Berlin Staatsoper “Unter den Linden” since 1992, and in autumn 2000 was named chief conductor for life of the Berlin Staatskapelle. As co-founder and conductor of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, he is a passionate advocate of music as a language of peace and cultural understanding. Barenboim has recorded for Deutsche Grammophon since 1972, both on the podium and at the keyboard, and over the years has amassed an imposing discography that spans centuries of music history. It now acquires an additional facet with this Debussy album.

For Claude Debussy, music was a means of discovering new worlds. In 1903 he said, “If you can’t afford to travel, you use your imagination instead.” Daniel Barenboim’s new album is the best travelling companion anyone could wish for.