Deutsche Grammophon, the Mercedes of Classical Labels

Posted by Rubin Meisel, November 30, 2014 03:28pm | Post a Comment

Deutsche Grammophon as a label goes back the turn of the 20th Century, but its real rise to international prominence started around 1960 when there catalog was imported directly to the USA with its inimitably silent surfaces sealed in thick plastic. During this time they released a landmark set of the Beethoven Symphonies conducted by the renowned Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic. Karajan was to record most of the standard repertoire multiple times for Deutsche Gramophone. After more than 50 years, the Beethoven set is stiil a best seller. DG also developed a sister label callec Arkiv that specialized in early music from Medieval chants up until the Baroque period with painstaking scholarship in their liner notes, presentation, and performances. Over the years they developed iconic artists like conductors Claudio Abbado, Carlos Kleiber, instrumentalists like Marizio Pollini, Martha Argerich, and Anne-Sophie Mutter. They also cemented the reputation of artists like conductors Rafael Kubelik, Eugen Jochum, Karl Bohm, and pianists Wilhelm Kempff and Emil Gilels.

In 1997, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Deutsche Grammophon, they launched a mid-price series of CDs called THE ORIGINALS. This series offers the original artwork often with significantly more music then the original release. A prime example is Carlos Kleiber’s magnificent performances of Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh (0289447400), which were originally on two separate LP’S but are on 1 ORIGINALS CD.

The ORIGINALS have remained commercially successful over the years while maintaining a high artistic standard. Even when they offered less commercially viable items like Hans Rosbaud conducting Sibelius or Ferenc Fricsay’s dramatic performance of the Verdi’s Requiem they are artistically worthy

Below are some titles of ORIGINALS that i feel are particularly noteworthy:

1. Beethoven: Symphonie No.9 Ouverture / Coriolan













2. Wilhelm Kempff: Piano Sonatas 8 14 21 23













3. Mozart: Symphonien Nos. 35-41


4. Rachmaninov: Piano Concerto No.2 / Tchaikovsky: Piano Concerto No.1

5. Ravel/Debussy/Mussorgsky: Bolero/La Mer/Picttures at an Exhibition

6. Stravinsky/Prokofiev/Webern/Boulez: Petrouchka/Sonata No. 7/ Variationen, op. 27/Sonata No. 2

7. Orff: Carmina Burana

8. Beethoven: Late Piano Sonatas

9. Prokofiev: Piano Concerto 5/Piano Sonata

10. Bach: Toccata/Partita/English Suite 2

11. Debussy: Preludes, Vol. 1/Images

Relevant Tags

Deutsche Grammophon (3), Classical (24), The Originals (1), Reissues (29), Beethoven (9), Wilhelm Kempff (1), Mozart (7), Rachmaninov (1), Ravel (2), Debussy (4), Mussorgsky (2), Stravinsky (4), Prokofiev (3), Karl Orff (1), Bach (5), Herbert Von Karajan (0)