On October 7 Murray Perahia released his first album for Deutsche Grammophon presenting Bach’ French Suites. He sees the French Suites as “Bach on the highest level”, adding, “I don’t think Bach wrote one note that didn’t have wider meanings and that wasn’t to be tackled with all one’s heart and soul.”
Perahia joins Deutsche Grammophon
Imagine if Cal Ripken Jr. decided, late in his career, to leave the Baltimore Orioles and go to the Yankees. Imagine Pele playing for Portugal instead of Brazil. Those are the sports equivalents of Murray Perahia moving to Deutsche Grammophon from Sony. For more than four decades, Perahia had been loyal to both Sony and its predecessor, Columbia Masterworks. He’d recorded almost all of the Classical and Romantic periods’ biggest composers: Chopin, Brahms, Beethoven, Mozart. He even did several Bach recordings.
What, then, could prompt such a fantastic and loyal artist to switch labels after such a long time? To begin with, Perahia has deep-seated genealogical roots. His family descends from the Iberian Jews who were exiled from Spain by the Moors in the Middle Ages. In fact, he spoke only Ladino when he was a boy. He has a similar connection to music. His musical ideas and ideals, developed from a career spanning six decades, are both deeply felt and colorfully presented. His interpretations of many legendary works are seen as standard-setting, yet their scope and emotional impact are varied. In much the same way as the Iberian Jews adjusted to life in the Diaspora, starting new traditions and developing new societies, Perahia likely wants to blaze new musical trails through familiar ground.
Deutsche Grammophon, for example, has hinted that the London-based virtuoso plans to revisit works he’s recorded in the past. Both they and he are excited about the prospect of re-interpreting Classical and Romantic masterworks through the application of a lifetime’s worth of experiences that are tempered with Perahia’s historical roots and perspective. Perahia contemplates each project thoughtfully and comprehensively, sometimes studying four or five different editions and scores of the same piece to glean varying perspectives before forming his own ideas. By moving to Deutsche Grammophon, Perahia probably seeks new musical canvasses to fill, which he could no longer do with Sony because he considered his work with them finished. In much the same way as he studies separate copies of the same piece, he will present new interpretations of pieces he recorded previously. To him, such a shift is part of a spiritual journey, and what went before is not to be superseded. Rather, both the old and the new will be considered part of the same whole. He said in a recent interview, “It’s very spiritual. Beethoven was a believer in God,” hinting that his journey will be also be part of the musical firmament.
Read more at gramophone.co.uk
Read an interview in SCMP