THE BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER ANNOUNCES NEW RECORD LABEL:
BERLINER PHILHARMONIKER RECORDINGS
Inaugural recording to feature the Berliner Philharmoniker performing
Robert Schumann’s Symphonies Nos. 1–4 conducted by Sir Simon Rattle,
to be released May 23, 2014
Recordings available at www.berliner-philharmoniker-recordings.com
Berlin, Germany (April 24, 2014) — The Berliner Philharmoniker launches a new in-house record label, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings, to release selected future concert programs, marking the first time the orchestra will administer the technical and editorial requirements of its own recordings. For its first release, Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings presents one of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s most important concert series in recent years: Robert Schumann’s complete symphonies conducted by chief conductor Sir Simon Rattle. In addition to two CDs, the box set also includes high-resolution video and audio on Blu-ray Disc.
Robert Schumann’s Symphonies Nos. 1-4 will be released on May 23, 2014 from Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings, available exclusively at www.berliner-philharmoniker-recordings.com. Further information and images are available for download here: http://bit.ly/1lG32XT.
The linen-bound hardcover edition contains the Schumann cycle in the traditional audio format on two CDs as well as on Blu-ray Disc, which enables listeners to hear the recording in Pure Audio, the audiophile studio quality of 96kHz/24bit, or view the concerts as HD video. An even higher resolution 192kHz/24bit version of the recording is available for download using an accompanying code. An additional code grants 7 days free access to the Berliner Philharmoniker’s video platform, the Digital Concert Hall. The recording’s bonus material comprises behind-the-scenes videos, including a conversation with Simon Rattle, and a comprehensive booklet with articles about the composer, his symphonies and the history of Berliner Philharmoniker’s Schumann tradition.
The cycle of the four symphonies to be released on the new label was performed and recorded at the Philharmonie in Berlin in February and November 2013. The performances were called a “defining moment” by Tagesspiegel, while the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung praised the orchestra’s “truly sensational quality.” A special feature of this recording is the performance of the original version of the Fourth Symphony from 1841, which appealed to Simon Rattle for its extra “lightness, grace and beauty,” compared to the established later version. Simon Rattle conducts music from Schumann’s Symphonies Nos. 1-4 and discusses the significance of the composer’s symphonies in this video: http://youtu.be/gwKGakgJPy4.
Simon Rattle says about this first release on Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings: “For us at Berliner Philharmoniker, this is music that is closer to our hearts than almost any other. We think it is wonderful to launch our new label with Schumann. We believe that these recordings are something special, and that we have a very distinct point of view on these wonderful pieces. We said, let’s share our interpretations with others. And hopefully this is really the start of a new wave of orchestra-produced recordings.” He further discusses the Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings label in this video: http://youtu.be/jXB-gVHzXZ0.
Olaf Maninger, media board member and principal cellist of the Berliner Philharmoniker says: “Our orchestra has had a presence on the international recorded music market for over 100 years. The founding of Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings represents a new chapter in our media history. We now have the ability control the selection of our repertoire, the product features and marketing. Here, we can realize a technical and editorial standard that meets the highest of demands. But above all, the new label allows us to build on the rewarding experience of our work with the Digital Concert Hall: direct contact with our friends around the world.”
Robert Schumann’s four symphonies have long been part of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s core repertoire, beginning with Franz Wüllner conducting the Second Symphony on the very first subscription concert program of 1882, the year the orchestra was founded. Wüllner was also instrumental in reviving the original version of the Fourth Symphony – the version performed by Simon Rattle on this recording – in Cologne in 1889. Hans Von Bülow (Chief Conductor 1887–92) also led the symphonies, but only after hearing Theodor Kirchner’s arrangements of the works for piano for four hands. From 1889 onwards, Von Bülow conducted single performances of each of the first three symphonies. Schumann’s Fourth Symphony is often associated with Wilhelm Furtwängler (Chief Conductor 1922–45 and 1952–54), whose 1953 recording of the work has long been held in the highest regard. In the 1963-64 season, Rafael Kubelik conducted a complete cycle of the symphonies; Herbert von Karajan (Chief Conductor 1954–1989) recorded a cycle in 1972 and led more performances of the Fourth Symphony than any other conductor of the orchestra; and Simon Rattle (Chief Conductor 2002–) has conducted Schumann’s music with the Philharmoniker with great success worldwide.
The Berliner Philharmoniker and Simon Rattle will juxtapose the complete symphonies of Brahms and Schumann in concerts at the Philharmonie in September. In October, the orchestra and Simon Rattle will travel to New York to perform Schumann’s complete symphonies in two concerts at Carnegie Hall: Symphonies Nos. 1 and 2 on Sunday, October 5 at 8:00 p.m., and Symphonies No. 3 and 4 bookending the US premiere of George Friedrich Haas’ dark dreams, commissioned by the Berliner Philharmoniker Foundation and Carnegie Hall on Monday, October 6 at 8:00 p.m. Additionally in New York, the orchestra will play concerts featuring works by Rachmaninoff, Bruch and Stravinsky at Carnegie Hall on October 1 and 2; and bring Peter Seller’s semi-staged “ritualization” of Bach’s St. Matthew Passion to the Park Avenue Armory on October 7 and 8.
Highlights of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s recording history
The Berliner Philharmoniker has a long tradition of recording music using the most advanced technologies of the time. Their first recording, excerpts from Richard Wagner’s Parsifal conducted by Alfred Hertz, was released in September 1913 on eight 78 rpm records made with a cone, diaphragm and a needle to record the vibrations on a cylinder or disc. The next milestone was acheived shortly thereafter in November 1913 when the Berliner Philharmoniker released its first complete symphony on record, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 5. Other highlights to follow included the first complete recording of Mozart’s opera The Magic Flute conducted by Sir Thomas Beecham in November 1937 and February/March 1938 in the Beethovensaal in Köthener Straße in Berlin, recorded on 37 sides at 78 rpm; the first stereophonic recording featuring suites from Stravinsky’s ballet music for The Firebird and Petruschka with the Philharmonisches Orchester conducted by Leopold Stokowski, released in 1957; and in 1981, then President of Sony, Akio Morita, and Herbert von Karajan presented the brand new technology of the CD and showed the first silver disc to the public as the recording medium for the future, at which von Karajan is reported to have described all previous playback technology as “like gaslight.“ The first Berliner Phiharmoniker/Karajan recording on CD was Strauss’ Alpine Symphony in September 1982, just after the ABBA’s “The Visitors” was released as the first CD ever.
The Schumann cycle on CD and Blu-ray will be released on May 23, 2014 with a vinyl edition to follow. Future Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings releases include Bach’s St John Passion, conducted by Simon Rattle and staged by Peter Sellars, and a complete cycle of Franz Schubert’s symphonies with Nikolaus Harnoncourt. Releases on Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings are available exclusively from the online store of the Berliner Philharmoniker and from selected retailers.