Tarmo Peltokoski is one of the new faces of classic

On May 31, Deutsche Grammophon (DG) will release the first album by its new star conductor, Tarmo Peltokoski, who will be entrusted with nothing less than the 40e Symphony by Mozart. Aged 24, this Finn is now an emblem of the new faces of classical music.

The strategy is clear: Tarmo Peltokoski, born April 21, 2000 in Vaasa, Finland, musical director of the Latvian National Orchestra since 2022, musical director in the making of the Orchester du Capitole de Toulouse, first guest conductor of the Philharmonic Orchestra of Rotterdam and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie of Bremen, is, for Deutsche Grammophon, the response to the meteoric media rise, documented by Decca, of his compatriot Klaus Mäkelä, 28 years old, musical director in Oslo and Paris, who will take into in 2027 will charge the orchestras of Amsterdam and Chicago.

Whether we like it or not, dematerialization or not, record companies, and in particular the “majors”, remain showcases which give the pulse and trends of a market.


Even though DG and Decca are part of the same group, Universal, there is competition and impermeability when it comes to catalogs. We wouldn’t really have seen Georg Solti or Vladimir Ashkenazy recording with DG, for example. The “majors” are watching each other, and it’s a safe bet that the other two, Warner and Sony, are wondering how they will be able to react.

As for young Finnish conductors, prodigies of this level do not emerge every year, and the great wizard credited with the phenomenon, conducting professor Jorma Panula, is 93 years old. Someone might be tempted to revive Santtu-Matias Rouvali (38), but it is likely that this leader’s “balloon” is already deflated. The strategy in Sony’s DNA would be to steal a star from Universal and, there, you don’t have to be a soothsayer to know that it would first target Yannick Nézet-Séguin. But the latter would have nothing to gain from such a change in freedom and media and artistic exposure.

The avenues will now be to create a real phenomenon with a chef from diverse backgrounds. The latter has been found and we know it here: the excellent American Roderick Cox has just been appointed to Montpellier, in France, and he will attract attention in this country, where the decision-making center of Warner Classics is located.

As far as female chefs are concerned, things are just starting to settle down. In recent years, agencies have signed contracts with a number of women in the hope of finding the one who will really break through. We are still very much in the phase of discrimination between real talent and the strength of the promotional machine. As for the second point, the Lithuanian Mirga Gražinytė-Tyla, 37, and the German Joana Mallwitz, 38, are one step ahead. The first will conduct the Vienna Philharmonic next season and the second, the Berlin Philharmonic. Even if they look good in the saddle, things can turn around. The emblematic name for the arrival of women in the profession five years ago was that of the Mexican Alondra de la Parra, but the numerous invitations were followed by few re-invitations.

Rather than a concert by Gražinytė-Tyla or Mallwitz, we would go with real and great musical expectations to attend a concert by the Ukrainian Oksana Lyniv, 46 years old, musical director of the Teatro Communale in Bologna, opera conductor and a symphonic conductor with temperament, a quality which is not lacking in Elim Chan either, who we saw at the helm of the Métropolitain this season and who has just recorded a remarkable album for Alpha.


If phonographic publishing plays a role as a showcase for artists, there is reason to be concerned over the last 18 months. After the sale of Hyperion to Universal, that of Bis to Apple, Chandos was sold last March to entrepreneur Klaus Heymann, 87, founder of Naxos. In other words, three of the four largest independent publishers have gone into the net of big fishermen, while the fourth, Harmonia Mundi, is already half-linked to Universal.

As artistic choices, such as the magical quartet of Hyperion pianists (Stephen Hough, Steven Osborne, Marc-André Hamelin and Pavel Kolesnikov), were the work of strong personalities at the head of their own companies, what will become of the type of line editorial? There remains the Outhere group, notably with Alpha, which has just recorded Elim Chan, which documents the pianist Jonathan Fournel and which publishes the audacity of Simon-Pierre Bestion, the asceticisms of the pianist Nelson Goerner or the musical dreams of François Lazarevitch. It is not for nothing that a label with a strong identity like La Dolce Volta, capable of breathing new life into the recording careers of Philippe Bianconi, Jean-Philippe Collard or Jean-Marc Luisada and revealing to us Jean-Baptiste Fonlupt, Wilhem Latchoumia and Florian Noack, will join Outhere in the very near future.

Because soloists need support to deliver relevant and impactful projects. What did the young Swedish violinist Daniel Lozakovich leave us, launched at 15 as a sort of young Milstein at DG? He is now 23 years old, we haven’t learned anything from him and he has already moved to Warner! The “majors” pass the ball around like this: rather than finding a guitarist, Sony poached Miloš Karadaglić from DG. To replace Miloš Karadaglić, DG set its sights on Raphaël Feuillâtre, a Frenchman born in Djibouti, very skillfully and “classily” restyled. Instantly “considered the new global face of classical guitar”, his biography tells us, he was propelled to Carnegie Hall. Luckily, Feuillâtre is really excellent.

The anti-Mäkelä

We will look with more circumspection at the frenzied diversification of the Decca catalog around the Kanneh-Mason family, with not only the cellist Sheku Kanneh-Mason, but several others of the seven children, including the pianist Isata. We have already expressed here our regret that the great African-American pianist Michelle Cann does not benefit from such a flamboyant contract.

On the violin side, Decca is busy convincing us that Randall Goosby is the violinist of the moment. We recommend that you instead listen attentively, at Warner, to the originality of a South African cellist with an overflowing personality: Abel Selaocoe. He was recently the host of the Bourgie Hall and will come to the OSM next season.

Otherwise, the bright arrivals in the vast music market are obviously those of Bruce Liu at DG who established a relationship with the German label after his Chopin Competition disc, and Yunchan Lim, the winner of the Van Cliburn Competition with his Studies by Chopin at Decca. We hope that they will be able to leave their mark on these two catalogs in the long term. The winners of major competitions, and even their runners-up (Mao Fujita at Sony), have been remarkable in recent years. Alexander Malofeev expects an exhibition to match Liu, Fournel and Lim.

Even though we are two weeks away from the release of the album Symphonies notbone 35, 36 And 40 of Mozart by Tarmo Peltokoski and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie, we can bet that he will not fail to be talked about. Peltokoski appears as the absolute anti-Mäkelä. As much as Mäkelä designs the CD as a smooth and perfect product, Peltokoski is teeming with ideas, displays his personality, his audacity and takes all the risks, going as far as the slow movements and the trios of the 3are movements, to ornament the woods. But he goes even further (too far?) with improvised piano interludes which link the works together. Let’s say it’s very “Barrie Kosky sound”.

As for those who think that a 24-year-old boss has no place at DG, let’s remember that history is an eternal beginning. In 1957, when Lorin Maazel recorded the disc in Berlin for DG Romeo and Juliet, he was 27 years old and… 16 years of experience! Because it was the time of chefs in short pants, also with Pierino Gamba, Alain Lombard and Roberto Benzi. In the 1940s and 1950s, Maazel conducted Franck’s symphony at the New York Philharmonic at age 13, Gamba was a guest of London orchestras at age 12, the age at which Lombard conducted the Pasdeloup Orchestra and Benzi, Liszt’s preludes in the film Prelude to glory by George Lacombe. Decca will wait until Gamba turns 18 before having him record Rossini overtures and having him accompany the great Julius Katchen in the 1er Concerto by Tchaikovsky.

Nothing new under the sun.

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