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Cleveland Orchestra to Return to Commercial Recording

By Vivien Schweitzer
09 Jan 2007

Above: the Cleveland Orchestra in its home venue, Severance Hall; below: music director Franz Welser-Möst.

The Cleveland Orchestra will resume commercial recording this week for the first time since 2000 — recording for release this week's subscription concerts of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 led by music director Franz Welser-Möst.

The recording will be released via digital download and on compact disc with a major international record label, although no label has yet been confirmed.

The Beethoven release will mark the Cleveland Orchestra's first commercial recording under Welser-Möst, who in now is his fifth season as the ensemble's music director. The soloists for the performances on January 11-13 at Severance Hall are soprano Measha Brueggergosman, mezzo-soprano Kelley O'Connor, tenor Frank Lopardo and bass René Pape.

The orchestra has hired Peter Alward, who recently retired as president of EMI Classics, to develop a partnership with a major record label for the licensing, marketing and distribution of CO recordings. He will work with executive director Gary Hanson, general manager Jonathan Martin and artistic administrator Frank Dans; discussions are reportedly underway with a number of international recording companies.

Alward will also advise on recording artists and repertoire, overall electronic media strategy and related artistic initiatives. Hanson commented, "Peter Alward is probably the most widely respected, experienced and successful individual in the world of classical music recording. We are very pleased that the Cleveland initiative is one of the very few projects that Peter has agreed to take on since retiring from EMI."

Alward first signed Welser-Möst to EMI Classics in the late 1980s and guided the development of his recording career in Europe and America. Alward's credits at EMI also included work with conductors such as Claudio Abbado, Mariss Jansons, Herbert von Karajan, Riccardo Muti, Simon Rattle and Klaus Tennstedt, as well as solo artists including Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Plácido Domingo, Thomas Hampson, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman and Maxim Vengerov.

Alongside Alward, the Cleveland Orchestra has also named Michael Seberich as its producer and sound engineer. Seberich worked on the orchestra's recent television and DVD production of Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 under Welser-Möst in the Abbey of St. Florian in Linz, Austria.

This recording initiative is made possible under the terms of the orchestra's most recent labor agreement, which stipulates that recordings will be self-produced from live performances, with copyright ownership retained by the orchestra. Musicians will receive a small up-front payment and a revenue-sharing royalty arrangement.

The Cleveland Orchestra has already released three recording of Beethoven's Ninth: with music director George Szell (1961, for Epic), Lorin Maazel (1978, Columbia) and Christoph von Dohnányi (1985, Telarc).




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