Pittsburgh Symphony Gets Recording Contract

Classic Arts News   Pittsburgh Symphony Gets Recording Contract
An upcoming recording of Brahms's four Symphonies on the PentaTone label will herald the end of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra's recording drought.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that the live recording sessions at subscription concerts in March and November will be led by PSO guest conductor Marek Janowski.

Robert Moir, vice president for artistic planning, told the paper, "It is vitally important. Recordings serve as oral [sic] documentation of an orchestra's artistic stature. This orchestra was always recording its artistry, all through the Reiner, Steinberg and Maazel years. However the orchestra arguably reached its highest level in the past 10 years, and there is hardly any documentation of it."

The only commercial recordings by the PSO in the past decade were with EMI in 2001 (Shostakovich's Symphony No. 8, with Mariss Jansons) and with Sony in 1996 (Cinema Serenade with Itzhak Perlman and John Williams).

The PSO will own the rights to the recordings, but PentaTone, a audiophile label, will supply the engineers, according to the paper.

The recording was made possible by the agreement signed by several major orchestras and the American Federation of Musicians in August 2006, which reduced recording costs by diminishing upfront payments to musicians for any live recordings sold as CDs or downloads.

Under the agreement, which is based on a new revenue-sharing model, musicians will receive an agreed-upon percentage of sales income from live performances recorded and sold as CDs or downloads. Ownership and copyright will be retained by the orchestras, although third parties (such as a record company) may be awarded temporary distribution licenses. Musicians will also have veto rights over which performances are distributed this way.

Orchestras including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Saint Louis Symphony, the Minnesota Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic and the Philadelphia Orchestra, as well as the San Francisco Opera and the Houston Grand Opera, signed onto the agreement; the Cleveland Orchestra, Chicago Symphony and Boston Symphony did not participate. (The Boston and Chicago Symphonies subsequently came to similar agreements with their musicians, though those are not under the umbrella AFM contract. The Cleveland Orchestra. meanwhile, announced last month that it will make a concert recording of Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 for an as-yet unnamed label.)

Moir told the Gazette that the PSO's Brahms cycle, which will be a three-disc set and is one of the first recordings announced under the new pact would not have been possible without the agreement. "Payments for the musicians under the old agreement were staggering."

Last week, the PSO announced the appointment of Manfred Honeck as music director, effective with the 2008-09 season.

Recommended Reading: