The relationship is described as an "exclusive collaboration on solo recitals" — meaning that Scholl will be free to appear on opera and oratorio recordings issued by other companies.
Representatives of both labels told PlaybillArts that Scholl's decision to switch labels was amicable on all sides, saying that the recording projects he wants to undertake are simply a better fit with Harmonia Mundi than with Decca.
Those projects include songs by the medieval German poet and singer Oswald von Wolkenstein, early 18th-century solo cantatas by Antonio Caldara, and lieder by Haydn and Mozart — all definitely planned for Harmonia Mundi and all similar to other repertoire the label has recorded over the years.
The 39-year-old countertenor began his recording career with Harmonia Mundi in the 1990s, at first in early Baroque works by Sch‹tz and Buxtehude directed by his teacher, countertenor-turned-conductor Ren_ Jacobs. Scholl gained widespread acclaim with his work on the label's releases of Handel's Messiah (under William Christie) and Bach's two Passion settings and Mass in B minor (under Philippe Herreweghe), as well on solo discs of Bach cantatas by and Handel opera arias.
In 1999 Scholl jumped to Decca, where he made two solo recordings of arias written for the star castrato singers of the Baroque era, as well as sacred music by Pergolesi and Vivaldi, John Dowland lute songs and an album of folk music. As his solo career in opera and oratorio took off during the current decade, however, Scholl was unable to commit his work in that area to disc, due to his exclusive commitment to Decca and the major labels' withdrawal from those genres. (His only major solo roles on record during that period were in Handel's oratorios Solomon and Saul under Paul McCreesh for Decca's corporate sister, Deutsche Grammophon.)
Scholl's first disc under his new contract is Il duello amoroso, a recital of early Italian cantatas by Handel to be released in April; he is joined by the young Canadian soprano H_lne Guilmette and the Italian period-instrument band Accademia Bizantina. In addition, later this spring, Harmonia Mundi will issue a DVD of Handel's Guilio Cesare in Egitto with Scholl in the title role, filmed at the Royal Danish Opera in 2004.