Telarc Scores Big

Classical music in general, and audiophile label Telarc in particular, scored big in this year's annual Outmusic Awards. Pulitzer Prize-winning composer David Del Tredici, whose music has recently found an ardent champion in conductor Robert Spano, won Outstanding New Recording: Instrumental for the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra's Telarc recording of Paul Revere's Ride. Telarc veteran and Grammy Award-winning producer Thomas C. Moore, who assisted in the recording, received the Outstanding Producer award. In addition, soprano Melissa Fogarty received Outstanding New Recording: Debut Female for Handel: Scorned & Betrayed (Albany Records).

The Outmusic Awards annually celebrate excellence in recordings involving lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender artists. The awards were presented at a star-studded celebration at New York City's Knitting Factory on Sunday, June 11. Outmusic intentionally eschews the Grammy Awards model of separating recordings into a multitude of individual genre categories. Instead, Outmusic hopes that its awards process will encourage music lovers to explore a wide variety of musics rather than settling into comfortable little niches.

As a result, neither Del Tredici nor Fogarty enjoyed the benefit of categories devoted solely to classical music. Instead, Del Tredici, whose Paul Revere's Ride was nominated for both Outstanding Instrumental and Outstanding Songwriter awards, found himself up against the likes of Mark Weigle's SoulSex, transgender songstress Namoli Brennet's Chrysanthemum, and SonicSphere's Slaves. Early-music specialist Fogarty faced the likes of folksinger Jess Yoakum and soulful hip-hop artist Miss Money. It is a tribute to Outmusic's expert judges that the excellence of the classical nominees received due recognition amid a plethora of excellent pop entries.

After living through the horrors of 9/11, New Yorker Del Tredici experienced a spell of patriotism that impelled him to write Paul Revere's Ride. A setting of Longfellow's classic tale for amplified soprano, huge chorus, and every instrument and noisemaker under the sun, this work has received a recording can serve as a test for an audiophile sound system. In fact, one listen to the chorus—spectacular in multichannel SACD—convinced me of the need to adjust the positions of my speakers to create better focus.

Always the rogue, Del Tredici indulges in such escapades as a spirited fugue pitting "Rule, Britannia" against "Yankee Doodle," and a rousing theme, complete with wind machine and sirens, that continually gallops through one's head. After you hear its gorgeous chorale and the triumphant, joy-filled ending, in which the composer pulls out all the stops, you may agree that Paul Revere's Ride is a trip and a half. The disc also includes the world premiere recording of The Here and Now, Masterprize competition winner Christopher Theofanidis' often rapturous setting of 12 poetic fragments by Rumi, the 13th-century Persian Sufi teacher and poet. The 30-minute journey for orchestra, chorus, and soloists grows more profound with repeated hearings.

In a telephone interview, Del Tredici described his Outmusic Awards win "amidst a sea of pop artists" as "thrilling beyond my wildest dreams." He also rejoiced in the fact that, through the awards process, he met Melissa Fogarty, who has since demonstrated her versatility by sight-reading Del Tredici's outrageous Ms. Inez Sez (CRI Records), complete with a high E, in live performance. Fogarty, who as a child sang with the Metropolitan and New York City operas, currently divides her singing between early music and contemporary compositions. Called "a real star" by David Vernier of Classics Today and "astonishing" by Tom Aldridge of Indianapolis' NUVO Today, she regularly performs in New York City and appears on WNYC public radio's Overnight Music.

Asked about his own sound system, Del Tredici admitted that he had no idea what SACD stands for. "It sounds like a sexually transmitted disease," he confessed with characteristic irreverence. "I'm in the stone age stereophonically. My missile-launching sites are not lively enough; I've got to do something."

Thomas C. Moore won his third Grammy in February 2006 for producing the Turtle Island String Quartet's 4 + Four. In the past 12 months he has also produced TISQ's Snakes and Ladders, Martin Pearlman and the Boston Baroque's disc of Mozart's flute concertos, and Leo Botstein and the BBC Symphony Orchestra's recording of Chausson's Le Roi Arthus, which won an Editor's Choice award from Gramophone magazine. Moore was also nominated for a Grammy for Classical Producer of the Year, 2005. He won his first two Grammys in 2003 for producing a verified audiophile blockbuster, the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus's multichannel SACD of Ralph Vaughan Williams' A Sea Symphony, conducted by Robert Spano.

Moore, who has served as principal oboist with a number of major orchestras, told Stereophile that he most enjoys working with artists in recording sessions: "I'm responsible for collaborating with artists to capture the best representation of their performance we can get. My duties range from the mechanical things—tempi, pitch, phrasing—to discussing the real concept of the piece, the direction it should go, and how we can best achieve overall impact and feeling. The work is a collaborative process of creation between myself and the musicians. Building trust and relationships is at the fore of what I do. I need to demonstrate that I'm a musician with good ears who will not lead the artists astray."

August brings Telarc's next Atlanta Symphony Orchestra recording: Christine Brewer and conductor Donald Runnicles delving into the wonders of Strauss's Four Last Songs and Wagner's Prelude and Liebestod from Tristan und Isolde. Brewer's soaring, powerhouse soprano and Runnicles' excellence in opera should have audiophiles salivating at the recording's imminent release.