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:
* * * FAURE, CHABRIER, SATIE, RAVEL Naida Cole Decca
Naida Cole is a young Canadian pianist who has won prizes at the Van Cliburn International Competition and other prestigious meets. She has a fluent technique that rises to the virtuoso challenges in thorny works such as Ravel's "Gaspard de la Nuit" and Chabrier's "Bourree fantasque." At the same time, she knows when to back off and let lyric lines bloom (Faure's "Ballade"). At this stage of her career, however, she is more objective than personal, more cautious than emotionally probing. She explores nuances of color more than expressivity. Her accounts of Satie's "Gymnopedie No. 1" and Ravel's "Pavane pour une Infante defunte" are rather cool.