If an agreement were completed, it would be the orchestra's first recording contract since the end of its relationship with EMI in 1996.
A Finnish newspaper reported this week that Ondine managing director Reijo Kiilunen had described the prospective agreement at the company's 20th-anniversary party. According to Helsingin Sanomat, Ondine would release three Philadelphia Orchestra recordings a year in the hybrid SACD format‹meaning that the discs could be played either on a Super Audio Compact Disc machine or on a standard CD player. The arrangement would begin with one disc this fall, followed by three releases in 2006.
Kiilunen told the Inquirer that "no agreement has been signed, so unfortunately there's nothing to report."
Philadelphia Orchestra president Joseph Kluger confirmed that talks were ongoing. "There are substantial business issues that have not been resolved, so other than confirming that we are having discussions and expressing excitement and optimism, I am reluctant to make any predictions," he said.
But Kluger did say that the CDs would be recorded live and produced by the orchestra itself, and that they would be led by music director Christoph Eschenbach.
At many American orchestras, high fees negotiated by musicians' unions have limited opportunities to record in recent years. Philadelphia Orchestra musicians agreed to reduce their fees as part of the contract they signed in November.