"Slava" has died. The great Russian cellist, known as much for his defiance of the Soviet oligarchy as for the more than 170 compositions dedicated to him, had been hospitalized in Paris at the end of January, but chose to fly to Moscow shortly thereafter to spend his last months in his beloved homeland. He is survived, not only by his two daughters and his wife and frequent collaborator, the soprano Galina Vishnevskaya, but also by the huge number of recordings that attest to his eloquence.
With buds and 'phones in hand, headphone enthusiasts from around the US and beyond are about to plug in in San Jose, California. Their destination is the Radisson Hotel, where the Second Annual International Head-Fi Meet takes place on April 21 and 22. Organized by Head-Fi, an online discussion board boasting 53,907 members and a whopping 2,810,005 posts annually, the meet promises two very full days of interactive panels, DIY demos, and vendor exhibits.
Canada has targeted your iPod and hard drive. On March 7, CBC Records, the record label of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, announced a deal with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA) that will make CBC's entire catalog of 400 active and archival classical, jazz, world, and rock titles available for download. The announcement comes just six weeks after major independent label and distributor Harmonia Mundi declared that it would follow the same route.
Amelia S. Haygood, the sound-conscious founder and president of record company Delos International, died on March 19 at the age of 87 after a 12-year battle with cancer. Survivors include pianist Carol Rosenberger, her closest friend and Delos vice president, artists and repertoire; Robert Haygood, her stepson; several nephews and nieces; and her extended family at the pioneering classical label she founded in 1973.
Universal Music Group must be taking its name seriously these days. At a time when some proclaim the demise of the classical recording industry, the conglomerate's many subsidiaries —Decca, Deutsche Grammophon, Philips, and Archiv, along with ECM, which has only a marketing and distribution arrangement with UMG —are embracing new projects on multiple continents with determination and optimism.
Marquis Classics, a Toronto-based CD label specializing in classical, jazz, world, and crossover recordings, recently issued its second batch of "Orion Master Recordings." Drawn from the large classical catalog of the defunct Orion LP label, the CDs include prized rare recordings by Robert Silverman, Steven Staryk, Joel Krosnick, Leonid Kogan, and other fine artists.
The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, which last June became one of the first orchestras in the US to launch its own e-label, has now become the first orchestra to offer download-only binaural recordings. The binaural process, whose benefits are most apparent to those who listen through headphones, is based on the concept that the best way to reproduce the concert experience is to make sure that the recorded sounds that go into the listener's ears are as close as possible to what would be heard during an actual concert.
Recordings that deliver the benefits of the high-resolution SACD format scored big at the 49th Grammy Awards Ceremony, held February 11, 2007 in Los Angeles. Telarc, which issues virtually all its classical titles and some jazz/blues releases in both DSD-native CD and hybrid SACD surround formats, won two Grammys in classical categories and three in jazz. SFS Media, the in-house label of the San Francisco Symphony conducted by Michael Tilson Thomas, received two Grammys for the seventh release in its ongoing Mahler series of live, DSD-native hybrid surround SACDs. Last but not least, Harmonia Mundi, some of whose titles are available in DSD-native hybrid surround SACD, scored big with the gorgeous choral music of Arvo Pärt.
Harmonia Mundi, one of the world's leading independent classical music labels, has finally taken the downloading plunge. In an agreement with the Independent Online Distribution Alliance (IODA), the world's largest distributor of digital music content, announced on January 24 at the annual music conference of the Marche International De l'Edition Musicale (MIDEM) in Cannes, Harmonia Mundi will make available its entire catalogue of early music and contemporary recordings to hundreds of digital music outlets around the world. IODA will also handle digital distribution of HM's catalogue within France, where Harmonia Mundi is headquartered. A separate agreement with Apple's iTunes makes all Harmonia Mundi titles available on that site as well. Also available are the classical, world, and jazz titles from the more than 30 independent labels that Harmonia Mundi distributes in many parts of the world.
Deutsche Grammophon and Decca/London have announced a first in the history of opera on DVD: the simultaneous release of Mozart's entire oeuvre of operas and operatic fragments. Captured live at the 2006 Salzburg Festival as part of the 250th-anniversary celebration of Mozart's birth, the 19 DVDs feature striking productions of all 22 operas, plus a wealth of bonus interviews with conductors, singers, and other members of the artistic team.