Cleveland Returns to the Recording Studio

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Ralph
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Cleveland Returns to the Recording Studio

Post by Ralph » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:35 pm

This is good news, especially since the orchestra is risking putting out a rarely recorded, obscure symphony.

*****

CLASSICAL MUSIC
Orchestra returns to recording with Ninth
Tuesday, January 09, 2007
Donald Rosenberg
Plain Dealer Music Critic

After a gap of seven years, the Cleveland Orchestra will resume commercial recording this week with the performances of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony at Severance Hall under music director Franz Welser-MÖst.

The orchestra is still searching for a major international record label to release the recording, which would be available on compact disc and via Internet downloading.

But the orchestra has hired veteran recording executive Peter Alward, who recently retired as president of EMI Classics, as a consultant. He will advise on artists and repertoire, electronic media strategy and artistic initiatives. He'll work with executive director Gary Hanson, general manager Jonathan Martin and artistic administrator Frank Dans to develop a partnership with a major label for licensing, marketing and distribution of the recordings.

Alward signed Welser-MÖst to EMI Classics in the late 1980s and guided his recording career. Alward has worked with such conductors as Claudio Abbado, Mariss Jansons, Herbert von Karajan, Riccardo Muti, Simon Rattle and Klaus Tennstedt and such solo artists as Martha Argerich, Daniel Barenboim, Placido Domingo, Thomas Hampson, Anne Sophie Mutter, Itzhak Perlman and Maxim Vengerov.

Along with Alward, the orchestra has engaged Michael Seberich as producer and sound engineer, beginning with the Beethoven Ninth. Seberich was sound engineer for the orchestra's recent television and DVD production of Bruckner's Symphony No. 5 led by Welser-MÖst in the historic Abbey of St. Florian in Linz, Austria. Seberich also recently collaborated with Welser-MÖst on an EMI Classics recording of Strauss' "An Alpine Symphony" with the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra.

The Cleveland Orchestra's new recording initiative is made possible by the most recent labor agreement. The contract stipulates that recordings will be self-produced from live performances. They are to be sold as compact discs or as digital downloads under license to recording companies.

Compensation for the musicians is based on a small up-front payment and a revenue-sharing royalty arrangement. Under the agreement, recording costs are greatly reduced from the standard contract between the union and commercial recording companies.

The orchestra last made a commercial recording in May 2000, when it taped Schoenberg's Piano Concerto with pianist Mitsuko Uchida and conductor Pierre Boulez for the Philips label.

The Beethoven Ninth under Welser-MÖst will be the orchestra's fourth commercial recording of the work. It previously recorded the Ninth under music directors George Szell (1961, for Epic), Lorin Maazel (1978, Columbia) and Christoph von Dohnanyi (1985, Telarc).

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:

drosenberg@plaind.com, 216-999-4269
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johnQpublic
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Post by johnQpublic » Wed Jan 10, 2007 2:51 pm

Whoopdeedoo....another Beethoven 9th.....

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Post by Conservativemaestro » Wed Jan 10, 2007 3:53 pm

Glad to hear that is coming out, they are probably the best orchestra in the US at this time.

Ralph
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Post by Ralph » Wed Jan 10, 2007 5:45 pm

Conservativemaestro wrote:Glad to hear that is coming out, they are probably the best orchestra in the US at this time.
*****

No orchestra is better than the New York Philharmonic!!!!!
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Conservativemaestro
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Post by Conservativemaestro » Wed Jan 10, 2007 6:46 pm

Ralph wrote:
Conservativemaestro wrote:Glad to hear that is coming out, they are probably the best orchestra in the US at this time.
*****

No orchestra is better than the New York Philharmonic!!!!!

Um I don't know about that...
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Post by Harold Tucker » Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:00 am

Cleveland isn't even the best orchestra in Ohio.

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Post by Barry » Sat Jan 13, 2007 12:08 am

They're probably up there with any orchestra in the world from a technical standpoint. But stylistically, they aren't my cup of tea, and I imagine that's at least partially because I can't stand their past couple music directors. Their approach to music-making is about the polar opposite of what I tend to react positively to (thicker strings, a more blended sound.......perhaps a little less emphasis on clarity). I've seen a lot of the major orchestras live over the past decade or so and they have got to be the most generic sounding of any of them. I know some people prefer that "let the music speak for itself" approach to performance, but I'm not one of them.
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Post by RebLem » Mon Jan 15, 2007 6:20 am

Ralph wrote:
Conservativemaestro wrote:Glad to hear that is coming out, they are probably the best orchestra in the US at this time.
*****
No orchestra is better than the New York Philharmonic!!!!!
The Cleveland is a great orchestra, and probably was the greatest orchestra in the US, perhaps the world, in the Szell era, but I'd say its between Chicago and Boston now, with Minnesota coming up fast on the outside.

As for NYPO, it, too, is a great orchestra, but has not been the greatest since the 1940's. Its not even the best orchestra in Manhattan. That would be the pit orchestra at the MET.

And Avery Fisher Hall? Are you kidding me? There are grass huts in Borneo that would be better recording venues. Better halls number in the scores of thousands.

I hope they will also consider for CD release some of the broadcast tapes in their archives. Forgive me if I sound like a broken record, because I have mentioned it more than twice or thrice before, but they have a very good cycle of the Schubert Symphonies conducted by Pierre Boulez that I would love to buy, among other things. Another is a performance I heard some time ago of a modern orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition that is less spectacular orchestrally than Ravel's or Stokowski's, but, IMO, adhered to the Mussorgskian spirit better than any other I have heard. Unfortunately, I forget who the orchestrator or the conductor were. Any Clevelanders here know?
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Post by CharmNewton » Mon Jan 15, 2007 1:19 pm

RebLem wrote:...Another is a performance I heard some time ago of a modern orchestration of Mussorgsky's Pictures at an Exhibition that is less spectacular orchestrally than Ravel's or Stokowski's, but, IMO, adhered to the Mussorgskian spirit better than any other I have heard. Unfortunately, I forget who the orchestrator or the conductor were. Any Clevelanders here know?
Perhaps it was Ashkenazy, who orchestrated and recorded the work (in England). If not, the Cleveland Orchestra archives might be of some help identifying the performance and arranger.

John

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Post by jserraglio » Sun Jan 28, 2007 10:50 am

Orchestra returns to recording
Sunday, January 28, 2007
Donald Rosenberg
Cleveland Plain Dealer

For the past seven years, the Cleveland Orchestra has been off the record. No more.

A new labor agreement paved the way for the orchestra to return to commer cial recording. The discs will be drawn from live perform ances rather than made in the studio.

The first work is already in the digi tal can, and it couldn't be more popular: Beetho ven's Ninth Symphony, as captured for posterity two weeks ago at Severance Hall by the orchestra, music director Franz Welser-MÖst, the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus and a strong quartet of vocal soloists.

Michael Seberich, the producer and sound engineer who made the DVD of Bruckner's Fifth Symphony with Welser-MÖst and company last summer at the Abbey of St. Florian near Linz, Austria, was at Severance to record the Beethoven. He'll be responsible for future Cleveland projects under Welser-MÖst.

The consultant charged with guiding the orchestra through the thickets of commercial recording is Peter Alward, who is familiar both with the orchestra and Welser-MÖst. In his previous post as president of EMI Classics, the British-born Alward also worked with such conductors as Herbert von Karajan, Claudio Abbado and Simon Rattle.

Alward was attending a Vienna Philharmonic rehearsal led by Karajan in the 1980s when he first met Welser-MÖst.

"I asked Karajan about him," said Alward over coffee last weekend at a Miami hotel during the orchestra's first winter residency at Carnival Center for the Performing Arts.

"Karajan said, 'This is a very talented Austrian conductor who I believe will have a great career.' "

Several years later, Alward signed Welser-MÖst to make his first recording, Mozart's Requiem, for EMI's local label, Classics for Pleasure. The conductor graduated to EMI Classics when he became music director of the London Philharmonic.

Alward has guided Welser-MÖst's recording career and followed him through his tenures with Switzerland's Zurich Opera and the Cleveland Orchestra. He is thrilled to be reunited with the conductor for recordings in Cleveland.

"I've always believed he's one of those artists who has developed wonderfully in a slow manner," Alward said. "Franz is a musician's musician. He's best when he feels supported. That's true in Zurich, and it's true [in Cleveland]."

The genial Alward didn't set out to be a record producer. He studied piano at London's Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where he realized the concert life wasn't for him.

"I'm a failed lousy pianist," he said. "I recognized very early that I wasn't good enough. I still play for my own pleasure."

An avid record collector since his teens, Alward decided to enter the business in 1970, when he was offered three jobs at major labels. He chose EMI, where he first served as editor of the catalog. The post had nothing to do with classical music at first, but eventually he went over to the classical division led by veteran producer Peter Andrey.

Alward learned the business from the ground up. He was made head of the international division in 1974 and moved to Cologne, Germany, a year later. Starting in 1976, from headquarters in Munich, Alward forged relationships with top conductors and soloists.

His first project with Karajan was the Austrian conductor's recording of Strauss' "Salome" in 1976 at Vienna's legendary recording venue, the Sofiensaal. The acclaimed performance stars German soprano Hildegard Behrens as the wild teenager who lusts after John the Baptist, to whose severed head she sings the famous, grueling - some would say gruesome - final scene.

(For more, check out Opera Cleveland's production of "Salome" in April at the State Theatre.)

"Karajan was a devil," said Alward. "Behrens was literally unknown. At 10 a.m. at the first recording session, he made her sing the final scene. I was involved in all of Karajan's EMI recordings before he died [in 1989]."

Alward has made recordings as an actual producer, sitting in the booth "with artists and the score and piecing a performance together," he said. But mostly he has developed projects and nurtured relationships with performers and ensembles.

Along with Welser-MÖst, he brought such major artists as tenor Roberto Alagna, baritone Thomas Hampson and conductor Antonio Pappano to EMI.

During his 34 years with the company, he occasionally had to tell artists their contracts weren't being renewed - "awful, awful," Alward said of the experience. He believes only certain artists are right for recordings made in the studio.

"An artist has the right to fail," he said. "They're not perfect human beings. Not many artists are natural studio beings. Their job is to connect to people, not a man in a box. To adapt your performance to a studio is very difficult. That's why I think live recordings are infinitely better."

The orchestra and Alward are negotiating with Deutsche Grammophon and EMI Classics to license, market and distribute the live Cleveland performances.

Alward is mum about works beyond the Beethoven Ninth, but he'll be back at Severance in May, when Welser-MÖst conducts Berg's Chamber Concerto (with pianist Mitsuko Uchida and violinist William Preucil as soloists), Brahms' Symphony No. 2 and "Zigeunerlieder," Haydn's Symphony No. 48, waltzes and polkas by Josef and Johann Strauss II, and Richard Strauss' "Till Eulenspiegel."

"We'll be doing very careful planning in the next few years and working with major labels on projects with artistic and commercial worth," Alward said.

And, without missing a beat: "Artistic is most important."

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Post by IcedNote » Sun Jan 28, 2007 11:32 am

I saw them play Beethoven's 9th last weekend down here in Miami for the opening of the Carnival Center. It was a very weak performance. No energy. No oomph.

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