As Pizzicato already announced, Daniel Barenboim has launched a new recording label, Peral Music. At yesterday’s press conference more information was given. The new label will not have any physical releases, it is digital-only. It will feature Barenboim’s work as pianist and conductor. Peral Music is launched in association with Universal Music and will be offered in iTunes’s superior ‘Mastered for iTunes’ format, which means that the music is compressed an in terms of quality inferior to a normal CD, even though the conductor said just the contrary.

The label’s name is significant: Peral is Spanish for ‘pear tree’ while Barenboim is the Yiddish for the German ‘Birnbaum’ which means ‘pear tree’, thus bringing together the different strands of Barenboim’s heritage. The label’s logo has been designed by the architect Frank Gehry, a close friend of Barenboim, who is building a concert-hall in Berlin for the Barenboim-Said Academy and the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which Barenboim founded with Edward Said in 1999 as a workshop for young Israeli, Palestinian and other Arab musicians to work together on performing classical music.

“I came up with the idea for the label,” said Barenboim, “because I’ve had the good fortune to record for 60 years and always with major companies. I’ve seen all the developments that the industry has made: my first recordings were on 45s. Then LP, then stereo, then CD – so I’ve seen a lot of changes. And I’ve also seen the changes to the place of music in society which is, in my view, much weaker than it was, say, 60 years ago.”  The lack of music education, “even in the cradle of music, Austria and Germany, has created a generation who have grown up without music”. In a very optimistic way Barenboim’s new venture aims to bring great music and great music-making to this new generation via digital technology. Good luck! If bringing music to a ‘lost generation’ would be so easy, other providers would have, since years, be more successful.

Barenboim is intrigued with the digital arena. “I’m fascinated by young people who have such a dominion of everything that is digital. I like the purity of it. I like the fact that you don’t need all the clutter – there’s something incredibly direct about it. And I’m fascinated by the possibilities it offers – there are so many opportunities! What I would like to get across to the younger generation is that they have to have the curiosity to really concentrate and listen: to basically really hang on to the first note and stay with it. Digital is a wonderful means because you don’t have to do anything like putting a needle onto an LP, or putting a CD into the player. And the recorded quality is superior.”  It looks like the maestro discovered something which he has no clue about. A bit naïve, no?

The initial plans for Pearl Music include the Bruckner symphonies – a top notch music for acquiring young listeners! – , which Barenboim will perform with his Staatskapelle Berlin, the orchestra of the Staatsoper Berlin where Barenboim has been Music Director since 1992.

Another project, which features Barenboim as pianist, is a recording of the little piano studies that young players inevitably encounter in their lessons. “The children never hear them properly played. They have difficulties with it; the teacher tells them “Don’t hurry here. Don’t drag there. This is too loud. This is too soft” but they never actually hear the piece properly played. So I would like to have a kind of ‘educational department’, if you want, on this label. And if that works, maybe do it with other instruments as well. Maybe get some of my distinguished colleagues who play other instruments to do the same thing, so that the students who are real beginners can hear the pieces they are learning, and maybe having difficulties with, properly played.” These recordings will be made in the studio and Barenboim plans to record spoken introductions pointing out the challenges and pitfalls that the music offers.

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