Wigmore Hall Live was formally launched today by the soprano Dame Anne Evans at a ceremony at the central London venue. The ground-breaking venture makes the Hall the first international venue to launch such a project, following the trend set by several international orchestras in recent years. Initial sales projections and pre-orders have given the label an early boost, as well as the endorsement of the classical music world. ìFew classical music venues possess the magic ingredient to host such a project,î said the editor of Gramophone magazine, James Jolly.
The label includes a programme of modern music from the Arditti Quartet (Nancarrow, Ligeti, Dutilleux), which is representative of the Hallís ongoing commitment to new music, according to Wigmore Hallís new overall Director, John Gilhooly:
ìWhile the spirit of old Vienna has been central to the profile and success of Wigmore Hall over many decades, it is a myth to suggest that we do not present, promote, or commission new music. Hundreds of new works were presented during William Lyneís tenure, and that is a tradition that will be continued and enhanced. This is the venue which gave an early platform to Finzi, Vaughan Williams, Britten, Elgar, and countless others.î
The three other releases in the first quarter of Wigmore Hall Live recordings are by the Nash Ensemble, Dame Felicity Lott, and Sir Thomas Allen.
Unveiling some of his own plans for future seasons, Gilhooly singled out his 2006/7 concert season as an example of tradition successfully mixed with innovation:
ìIíve invited 40 of the worldís leading singers to participate in an international festival of song, underlining our peerless reputation in this field. We are planning a celebration of Gyˆrgy Kurt·gís music, as well as a commemoration of the 30th anniversary of the death of Benjamin Britten in December 2006, featuring leading chamber musicians and singers. Alongside Paul Lewis and Andr·s Schiffís journey through Beethovenís 32 piano sonatas, I have asked Steven Isserlis and Christian Tetzlaff to present Beethovenís cello sonatas and violin sonatas, respectively. Michael Collins and Mikhail Pletnev also join us for a chamber music series,î he concluded.
Gilhooly also announced the signing of lyric mezzo-soprano Joyce DiDonato for the label as well as naming the releases for 2006, including archive recitals by Dame Margaret Price and Geoffrey Parsons; Shura Chekassky; Peter Schreier with Andr·s Schiff; and concerts by the Academy of Ancient Music; Michael Chance and Richard Egarr; Gerald Finley and Julius Drake; the Kopelman Quartet; and a second release from the Nash Ensemble.


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