Marking 100 years of recording together – the longest-running partnership in the history of recorded music – the Berliner Philharmoniker and Deutsche Grammophon have released two unique new products.
The Centenary Edition is a new consumer-curated 50-CD set, featuring Berliner Philharmoniker recordings produced between 1913 and 2013. Compiled from the results of a worldwide survey undertaken earlier in the year (in which nearly 40,000 votes were cast), the set features all key Principal and Guest Conductors from the last 100 years, including Herbert von Karajan, Wilhelm Furtwängler, Claudio Abbado, Sir Simon Rattle, Gustavo Dudamel, Karl Böhm, Ferenc Fricsay, and many more.
Leonard Bernstein’s only Berliner Philharmoniker recording – of Mahler’s Ninth Symphony – triumphed in the survey as the public’s number one choice, followed closely by Arthur Nikisch’s historic recording of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony, from 1913, and Abbado and Pollini’s legendary “Emperor” Concerto. All three feature on the Edition, and the first movement of the extraordinary Nikisch Beethoven set will be issued separately as a brand-new single.
Thought to be the oldest recording ever to be released as a new digital single, the Beethoven, specially remastered from the original master disc, was first issued on shellac 100 years ago, and offers an extraordinary glimpse of performance practice from the beginning of the last century.
"This remarkable single is, quite simply, six minutes of classical music history,” said Deutsche Grammophon label President, Mark Wilkinson. “We are hearing, with fresh ears, music captured by DG engineers when Wilhelm II was German Emperor, King George V ruled the British Empire, Stravinsky was premiering The Rite of Spring in Paris, and Charlie Chaplin was just beginning his film career."
The Centenary Edition houses 50 CDs in a specially-designed luxury boxed set, accompanied by a newly commissioned booklet, including a comprehensive article written by former Archivist and Dramaturg of the Berliner Philharmoniker Dr Helge Grünewald. The CDs feature the original jacket artwork from their first release, and the recordings are presented chronologically; highlights include all of Furtwängler’s studio recordings, fifteen Karajan albums and seven from Abbado, with notable soloists such as Martha Argerich, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Pierre Fournier, Maurizio Pollini and Magdalena Kožená.
The new single and Centenary Edition are set for worldwide release at the beginning of the Berliner Philharmoniker’s new season – a special season which sees the orchestra celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Philharmonie, its Berlin home since the inaugural concert on 15 October 1963.
“For us as members of the orchestra, it is a source of tremendous pleasure that these recordings keep our history alive, and allow our audiences to keep on experiencing great musical moments from the past,” said Olaf Maninger, Principal Cellist and Media Chairman of the Berliner Philharmoniker. “This unique collection allows us to look back with pride and pleasure on our close association with Deutsche Grammophon.”