Whither Sony Classical?

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Modernistfan
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Whither Sony Classical?

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Jul 16, 2018 2:20 pm

At this point, Sony Classical seems to be a label of two completely disparate parts. One of these parts is recordings, typically of either very standard repertoire, transcriptions, or outright crossover, involving well-known and highly publicized stars such as Yo-Yo Ma, Joshua Bell, Sol Gabetta, or Lang Lang. The other part is recordings, frequently of less overrecorded or even unrecorded works, involving lesser-known, but hardly inferior, performers and orchestras. These include several recent releases that I have cued up for purchase in Amazon: orchestral music by Goffredo Petrassi, violin concertos by Ferrucio Busoni and Gian Francisco Malipiero, and orchestral music by Giorgio Federico Ghedini (I also just bought a recording of double concertos by John Harbison and Wolfgang Rihm, coupled with the standard-repertoire Brahms Double Concerto, on Sony). Recordings that form this second part are rarely officially released in the United States (they do not appear in the listings of the two major American online sellers, ArkivCD and HB Direct), although they are readily available from Amazon, and get absolutely zero publicity, marketing, or promotion. If there is someone on this forum that is familiar with the inner workings of Sony Classical, could that person please explain what gives?

John F
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Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Whither Sony Classical?

Post by John F » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:31 pm

Sony Classical set its star performers to making crossover records during the tenure of Peter Gelb, before he left to become general manager of the Metropolitan Opera. I assume that part of their catalog is his legacy. I don't know who's running Sony Classical now or what his/her policy may be, but it's encouraging that they seem to be getting back into recording classical music.
John Francis

Modernistfan
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Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:23 pm

Re: Whither Sony Classical?

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Jul 16, 2018 4:53 pm

Yo-Yo Ma has shown no inclination to record some of the significant new repertoire that he has actually premiered, but this failure may partly be due to the fact that the conductors of these works were signed to a label other than Sony and it may have been impossible to arrange the required accommodations. He never recorded the Carter Cello Concerto, originally premiered with the Chicago Symphony and Daniel Barenboim (Barenboim was at that time signed by Warner Classics). There are now three recordings of that work, played by Fred Sherry on Bridge, Johannes Moser on Neos, and, most recently, Alisa Weilerstein on Decca. More recently, Yo-Yo has premiered the Esa-Pekka Salonen Cello Concerto, also with the Chicago Symphony (Salonen, who used to be signed to Sony, is now signed by Deutsche Grammophon). I would very much like to get a recording of that work, but so far, none is out. Perhaps a deal can be worked out so that a recording of the premiere can be released on Deutsche Grammophon, or, what will probably happen, another cellist will record the work.

John F
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Joined: Mon Mar 26, 2007 4:41 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

Re: Whither Sony Classical?

Post by John F » Mon Jul 16, 2018 6:54 pm

More likely, Sony Classical has shown no inclination to record that music. I'm sure Yo Yo Ma would have done so, given the chance. Decades ago, that label's predecessor Columbia Records was very active recording new music, especially American music including Elliott Carter, but those days are long past.
John Francis

Modernistfan
Posts: 1737
Joined: Fri Sep 10, 2004 5:23 pm

Re: Whither Sony Classical?

Post by Modernistfan » Mon Jul 16, 2018 10:08 pm

Unfortunately, that is probably true, but note that Sony Classical just released a recording of double concertos by Wolfgang Rihm and John Harbison, not exactly the sort of repertoire that they are generally emphasizing. Of course, that was not with their big stars. I am sure that Salonen will probably get a recording out with another cellist; it has now been played by cellists other than Yo-Yo Ma. If Yo-Yo does record it, I shall grab it in a New York minute.

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