There is no end of fretting in the classical music world.
Just look at the record business. The major labels have nearly ceased recording new cycles of Schubert symphonies and Wagner operas, perhaps finally realizing that the multitude of performances already available may be just about enough. Lowest-common-denominator crossover albums crowd the catalog. Clueless record executives seem able to discern the fact that there's an audience but can't quite figure out how to tap it.
These are appropriate concerns. But there are also signs of new life in classical music, which are apparent to anyone who looks for them.
No longer do emerging pianists automatically feel compelled to compete with Rubinstein by doing yet another Chopin program. Emerging conductors now realize they can follow in the footsteps of Frtwangler without mimicking him in Beethoven. In other words, there are plenty of new musicians with new musical ideas.
Moreover, it is relatively cheap and easy to make a CD these days, and small, independent labels are often eager to take chances with new artists and new repertory. The Times' music critics take a look a few of these emerging artists and their CDs:
* * "AMIR" Amir Black Box
Amir is another young violinist who enters the professional world with but a single name. Born in Kazakhstan in 1986, he recorded this disc of showoff pieces--by such composers as Tchaikovsky, Vieuxtemps, Paganini and Wieniawski--when he was 13. He has a big, strong, sweeping but sometimes somewhat sloppy sound. Not surprisingly, he confines his attention to the surface of the music, which he skims over in virtuosic fashion. Fast tempos are never enough: They must be pushed to delirium. Some may find this attractive, but emotionally this is a rather shallow disc. Marat Bisengaliev, Amir's uncle, provides equally virtuosic piano accompaniment and joins him in a set of violin Duets by Shostakovich.