Monday, February 20, 2017
In a nutshell: he wasn’t loved enough. The US-based Chinese pianist is high maintenance. He needs to know he is appreciated. And while his label, Sony Classical, was behind him all the way, he didn’t get the feeling that the company as a whole supported him. Memories of the $3 million signing-on fee in 2010 soon faded. Having left DG in a huff with its former boss, he would still drop into the Berlin office to see old friends. The breach was never total. And when Sir Lucian Grainge, chairman of Universal Music Group, took him to lunch in LA, Lang Lang felt the love once more. Universal offered him a global 360-degree marketing plan that Sony could not match. Last night, he signed on with DG. Sony are left licking the costs. His defection is a serious loss of face and a blow to its faltering Chinese presence. Lang Lang never sold as many records as Sony expected but he was a Sony poster boy and the label is poorer without him. Perhaps his last record cover revealed more than intended.
Rumours had been floating for a while that Lang Lang was unhappy at Sony Classical. Tonight, they have been confirmed. The Chinese pianist has signed a contract with Universal president Sir Lucian Grainge to return to his first label, Deutsche Grammophon. Lang Lang says: ‘When I met Lucian and his team I was amazed by their open-mindedness and passion for innovation. This is exactly the spirit we need to promote classical music in the 21st century. My dream has always been to share music with as many people as possible, and I can’t wait to start working with the Universal teams around the world.’ This a shock to Sony and a blow to its chief Bogdan Roscic, himself on borrowed time until he becomes head of the Vienna Opera in 2020. It’s the first musical night raid of 2017. More on the consequences tomorrow.
A member of the Berlin State Opera from 1987 until illness enforced her retirement in 2009, Rosemarie Lang was a regular performer in a highly competitive ensemble. He roles included Dorabella in Cosi fan tutte, Cherubino in Le Nozze di Figaro, Sesto in La clemenza di Tito by Mozart, Romeo in I Capuleti od I Montecchi by Bellini, Rosina in Il Barbiere di Siviglia by Rossini, Octavian in Rosenkavalier and Clairon in Capriccio. Kurt Masur selected her for several recordings. Rosemarie died on January 12, aged 69.
AskonasHolt have just announced they have signed Long Yu, chief conductor in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou and by far the most powerful musician in the People’s Republic. Long Yu was formerly with Cami Music’s Jacques Cesbron, superagent to his close friend and pathfinder, Lang Lang. Something appears to have gone wrong there. It remains to be seen in Lang Lang follows his pal.
There are 9.02 million children in rural China whose parents leave home to work in the cities, depositing the children mostly in the care of grandparents. The so-called ‘left-behind’ children are seen as a growing social issue. Lang Lang has given a fund-raising concert to help improve their situation and has pledged to do more. Read here.