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:
* * BACH Six Suites for Solo Cello Daniel Mller-Schott Glissando
Munich-born cellist Daniel Mller-Schott, 25, has some big career trophies stacked in his corner: winning first prize at the 1992 Tchaikovsky Competition, gaining the favor of Anne-Sophie Mutter and Mstislav Rostropovich. Yet it is probably a little early for him to be offering up the towering Bach cello suites for posterity. He has energy, knowledge of Baroque ornamentation and a pleasing if not particularly charismatic tone, recorded with the right amount of resonance. But he doesn't really feel Bach's dance rhythms most of the time, nor does he construct convincing structures for the dramatic preludes, and all of the cycle's sarabands make tedious listening. Although Mller-Schott's self-penned liner note suggests that he has thought deeply about these works, the performances here rarely reflect much depth. But then, neither did Yo-Yo Ma's first set of Bach suites from his 20s.