Press Room

EMI Classics & Virgin Classics October 2010 releases

Sir Simon Rattle’s new recording of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet headlines the October 2010 releases from EMI Classics.  The new recording with the Berlin Philharmonic, along with the final two installments of the label’s Simon Rattle Edition, celebrates the conductor’s 30th anniversary with the label.  Other October highlights from EMI Classics and Virgin Classics include: Leif Ove Andsnes’s completion of his Rachmaninov Piano Concerto cycle; four new operas on DVD, including Puccini’s La rondine from the Metropolitan Opera and Gounod’s Faust from the Royal Opera House, both starring Angela Gheorghiu; Alison Balsom performing trumpet concertos of the Italian Baroque; and the first 20 titles in EMI Classics’ new Masters series.

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker – complete ballet
Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra / Sir Simon Rattle
Three special CD editions and downloads available October 26 from EMI Classics

Just in time for the holiday season, EMI Classics is proud to release a new recording of Tchaikovsky’s justly beloved ballet, The Nutcracker, in a high-spirited new performance by the Berlin Philharmonic and its music director Sir Simon Rattle.  The new recording, available in three special new CD editions, forms part of the label’s celebrations of Rattle’s 30th anniversary as an exclusive EMI Classics artist. 

The Nutcracker is the most popular ballet ever written, and its annual holiday performances have become a treasured tradition the world over.  This musical fairytale follows Clara and her unusual prince and protector, the Nutcracker, through adventures and exotic delights in the magical Kingdom of Sweets. 

The new release features Rattle’s live recording of Act II from December 2009’s Silvesterkonzert, Germany’s New Year’s celebrations.  Act I was recorded in the studio during the same period.

Details follow for each of the three new editions.

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Experience/Deluxe Edition)

This special, limited edition two-CD set features a 52-page hardcover book detailing the history and context of the work through photographs, illustrations, and essays as well as an introduction by Sir Simon Rattle himself.  The Experience Edition also includes: exclusive video footage from the conductor and members of the orchestra, explaining the enduring popularity of the work and their experience in recording it; a special 24-hour guest pass to the BPO’s Digital Concert Hall; photos; and more.

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Standard Edition)

The Standard Edition sets itself apart from typical Nutcracker offerings with the exceptional quality of the recording, video content, twelve-page booklet, educational and entertaining essays, and photos.

Tchaikovsky: The Nutcracker (Discovery Edition)

The Discovery Edition is the perfect introduction to this beloved work, featuring “greatest hits” from the ballet, with the voices of celebrated boys’ choir Libera on Waltz of the Snowflakes.


Rachmaninov: Piano Concertos Nos. 3 and 4
Leif Ove Andsnes, piano
London Symphony Orchestra / Antonio Pappano
CD and downloads available October 26 from EMI Classics

“Andsnes lavishes his customary balance of head and heart on this music.”
– Gramophone “Editor’s Choice” review of Andsnes’s previous Rachmaninov CD

Leif Ove Andsnes completes his recorded cycle of the four Rachmaninov Piano Concertos with the release of Concertos Nos. 3 and 4 with the London Symphony Orchestra conducted by Antonio Pappano.  This new release follows the pianist and conductor’s Gramophone Award-winning recording of Concertos Nos. 1 and 2, which featured Andsnes and Pappano with the Berlin Philharmonic. 

Press reviews of concerts preceding the current recordings noted the pianist’s “quiet luminosity and luxuriant tone” (Independent, UK) and describe the performances as “refreshing and absorbing” (, “stunning…spellbinding” (Daily Telegraph, UK), and “teeming with detail and subtle shifts of light” (Guardian, UK).  The London Times observed: “It’s interesting that such an impulsive interpreter [as Pappano] has forged an enduring partnership with the pianist Leif Ove Andsnes.  The two now have a pedigree in the studio and in the concert hall with the Rachmaninov piano concertos that spans almost six years, perhaps founded on the meeting of Andsnes’s fastidious lyricism and Pappano’s emotional honesty.”

“Rachmaninov is a major challenge for pianists,” Andsnes said recently.  “He was one of the greatest pianists who ever lived and he was famous for having large hands, so there’s a lot of chordal writing and an array of technical challenges.  But at the same time it’s such great music and it’s a physical pleasure to play because it’s so well written for the piano.”  Andsnes added,  “People often make this music too percussive and too vertical for my tastes.  Rachmaninov made waves in the music, starting quietly and building it up and there is always movement and rubato in his playing.  Today maybe some of these rubatos might feel a little foreign, or a little old-fashioned, even if Rachmaninov was a very modern pianist for his time, but I think we can learn so much from that flexibility.”

As an exclusive EMI Classics artist, Leif Ove Andsnes has recorded over 30 discs spanning repertoire from Bach to the present day.  He has been nominated for seven Grammys and won many international prizes including four Gramophone Awards to date.


Italian Concertos
Alison Balsom, trumpet
Scottish Ensemble
CD and downloads available October 26 from EMI Classics 

Praised by the New York Times for her “clear, soaring tone, virtuosic technique, and elegant phrasing,” trumpeter Alison Balsom performs Italian concertos on a new recording from EMI Classics.  The album, featuring popular concertos originally composed for the violin or oboe by Vivaldi, Tartini, B. Marcello, Albinoni, and Cimarosa, follows the popular and critical success of her recording of concertos by Haydn and Hummel.

An exclusive EMI Classics recording artist, Alison Balsom studied trumpet at the Guildhall School of Music, the Paris Conservatoire, and with Hakan Hardenberger.  She was previously a member of the Gustav Mahler Youth Orchestra and the National Youth Orchestra of Britain.  She has appeared throughout Europe, the United States, and Asia with leading orchestras, as a recitalist on both Baroque and modern trumpets, and in chamber music with the Balsom Ensemble.

On November 9 Balsom plays repertoire from her new album in a recital at the Schubert Club in Minneapolis, and then a few weeks later in concert at New York’s Peoples’ Symphony Concerts (Nov 20).

A preview of the album is available at


Fleur de Paris
Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra
CD and downloads available October 5 from EMI Classics

Fleur de Paris is the fifth recording by the Twelve Cellists of the Berlin Philharmonic, the famed “orchestra within an orchestra.”  It’s an aural tour-de-France that conjures up the romance and nostalgia of the City of Light and beyond, as it surveys popular and classical favorites that span a century of French music.

The centerpiece of the recording is Poulenc’s most original choral score, La figure humaine.  Based on eight poems by Paul Éluard, La figure humaine was composed in 1943 for two unaccompanied choirs of six voices each.  Although rarely heard in the original setting, the work is perfectly suited to performance by the Twelve Cellists.  Over a span of nearly 20 minutes, it evokes by turns plainchant, organ textures, a Baroque dance, snippets of popular melodies, and the music of Debussy and Ravel.  The final poem is Liberté, which was dropped over German-occupied France during the War by the RAF and which has been described as a hymn to freedom from German-occupied France.

Other album tracks include arrangements of Fauré’s Pavane, Ravel’s Pavane pour une infante défunte, Debussy’s Clair de lune, and Satie’s Gymnopédie No. 1.  From the sphere of popular song come Edith Piaf’s signature tune La vie en rose, Michel Legrand’s Une femme est une femme, and Fleur de Paris by Henri Bourtayre, which was made famous by Maurice Chevalier.  Sous les ponts de Paris, by the prolific Marseille composer Vincent Scotto, evokes a stroll along the Seine, while Hubert Giraud’s Sous le ciel de Paris will be familiar to many, even those unaware that they knew it.

A member of the ensemble, which was established in 1974 during Herbert von Karajan’s tenure, commented: “We have long wanted to make a CD purely of French music – France produced many of the greatest cellists, including Pierre Fournier, Maurice Gendron, and Paul Tortelier.  In fact, the ensemble came into being some 35 years ago, when Jean Françaix wrote his Aubade especially for the Twelve Cellists.  When we were looking for music for our new CD, we found lots of pieces that – even if they hadn’t been originally written for our instrumental combination – were wonderfully suited to the sound of twelve cellos.”

The Berlin Philharmonic’s music director, Sir Simon Rattle, has said, “What the Twelve Cellists do is simply marvelous.”

See (and hear) a track from the album here:


Bizet: Symphony in C; Jeux d’Enfants; Roma
Orchestre de Paris / Paavo Järvi
CD and downloads available October 5 from Virgin Classics

The 2010-11 season sees Paavo Järvi assume his new role as Music Director of the Orchestre de Paris, taking over from Christoph Eschenbach who spent ten years with the orchestra, and following in the footsteps of such figures as Charles Munch, Herbert von Karajan, Georg Solti, and Daniel Barenboim.  Marking the launch of this collaboration, Virgin Classics is releasing a program of orchestral works by Bizet, the first recording from this leading French orchestra and its Estonian-born conductor.

To date, Järvi’s Virgin Classics recordings have focused on music by Nordic and Russian composers, and – in the conductor’s recent work with the Frankfurt Radio Symphony Orchestra – Mahler and Brahms.  Now, with the Orchestre de Paris, he presents a program of delightful orchestral gems by Bizet, a quintessentially French composer.  Featured works include the vernal Symphony in C, written when Bizet was still a teenager; the delightful suite Jeux d’enfants (Children’s Games); and the composer’s second symphony, Roma, a work he revised on a number of occasions and which is rarely heard.

Andy Gil reviewed the new album for Britain’s Independent:

“Written when the composer was just 17, the Symphony in C was regarded so dismissively by Bizet himself as a juvenile trifle that he neither published it nor had it played during his lifetime.  Only posthumously was it hailed as a youthful masterpiece, its essential buoyancy and joie de vivre delightfully expressed in this new interpretation by Paavo Järvi.  The youthful brio is extended for the accompanying small suite of orchestrations of Bizet’s piano pieces for children, Jeux d’enfants, the program concluding with the later Roma Symphony in C, a more reflective work.  The two symphonies together offer an interesting arc of Bizet’s development.”

A brief audio excerpt and commentary from Paavo Järvi about his love of Bizet’s music is available here:


Gounod: Faust
Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna, Bryn Terfel, Simon Keenlyside, Sophie Koch
Royal Opera House Orchestra and Chorus / Antonio Pappano
David McVicar, Director
DVD available October 5 from EMI Classics

“The Royal Opera scores another bull’s-eye with David McVicar’s gorgeous and intelligent staging of a Victorian warhorse.”  – Daily Telegraph (UK)

Angela Gheorghiu stars as Marguerite alongside a cast of opera’s superstars, including Roberto Alagna, Bryn Terfel, Simon Keenlyside, and Sophie Koch, in David McVicar’s spectacular 2004 production of Gounod’s Faust for the Royal Opera House in London.  This production was the Royal Opera Company’s first performance of Gounod’s best-known opera, Faust, in 18 years.

Gounod’s Faust is the story of a scholar who sells his soul to the Devil in exchange for unlimited knowledge and worldly indulgences.  McVicar’s innovative production sets this story around the time of the Franco-Prussian war (1870) in the gothic, seamy underbelly of Paris.  He characterizes Faust, performed by Roberto Alagna, as a man both torn between the theater and religion, and grappling with his own sexuality.

Critics unanimously praised the production and the cast.  The Independent lauded “David McVicar’s spectacular reinvention of this 19th-century warhorse,” summarizing the contribution of the singers as follows: “Among the most stylish performances was that of Simon Keenlyside as Valentin… . Bryn Terfel…gave Mephistopheles a believable domineering menace without compromising the splendor of the voice.  Sophie Koch made a fetching moment of Siebel’s exquisite number… . Alagna…[succeeded in] achieving a kind of elegance as well as energy; Gheorghiu [was] eloquent and fluent from the start, the ‘Jewel Song’ supple and eager rather than flashy.”

Gheorghiu calls it “one of the most beautiful productions I have ever done on stage.”  Hear her discuss it briefly here:

Verdi: Don Carlo – Live from the Royal Opera House
Rolando Villazón, Marina Poplavskaya, Simon Keenlyside, Ferruccio Furlanetto
Orchestra and Chorus of the Royal Opera House / Antonio Pappano
Directed by Nicholas Hytner
DVD available October 5 from EMI Classics

In a new staging by Nicholas Hytner, director of the UK’s National Theatre, Don Carlo, Verdi’s grandest and arguably greatest opera, was the highlight of the 2007-08 Royal Opera House season.  The new production marked Rolando Villazón’s much anticipated and triumphant return to the Royal Opera House.

Don Carlo is Verdi’s musical retelling of Schiller’s poem Don Carlos.  Set amidst the political, religious, and sexual intrigue of the 16th-century Spanish court, this epic work tells the tragic story of Don Carlo, a virtuous young prince who is pitted against the powers of a dominant, corrupt society.

First staged at the Royal Opera House in 1886, the new production is the first new version of the complete five-act opera to be staged at Covent Garden in 50 years.  With sets and costumes by Bob Crowley, direction by Hytner, and an enviable cast, this production of Don Carlo is worthy of the greatness of Verdi’s original, masterful work.

Widespread critical acclaim for the production included these observations from the Independent:

“Supported by designer Bob Crowley’s dazzling coups de theatre, and by Antonio Pappano’s band in scintillating form, [Hytner] directs with such vivid forcefulness – and such psychological acuity – that Verdi’s great rumination on theocracy, and on the battle between patriarchy and the brotherhood of man, emerges in its full beauty and menace… . Ferruccio Furlanetto’s King Philip, a commanding presence conveying as much by his stillness as by his gloriously resonant voice… . This full five-act version is a long evening, but time flies thanks to transcendent performances by Poplavskaya and Villazón, and to the beauty emanating from the pit.”


Puccini: La Rondine – Live from the Met
Angela Gheorghiu, Roberto Alagna
New York Metropolitan Opera Chorus and Orchestra / Marco Armillato
Directed by Nicholas Joël
DVD available October 12 from EMI Classics

Angela Gheorghiu and Roberto Alagna star in the 2008-09 Metropolitan Opera production of Puccini’s La rondine (The Swallow).  The new production, directed by Nicholas Joël, was the company’s first staging of the opera in 70 years.  The New York Times hailed the production and its Art Deco setting as “sophisticated, charming, and poignant.”  The DVD features the January 10, 2009 performance of the opera that was aired globally in HD, as well as two bonus interview featurettes: the first with Gheorghiu and Alagna, and the second with Lisette Oropesa and Marius Brenciu, who sing the roles of Lisette and Prunier respectively.

Puccini’s “operetta” La rondine was commissioned by Vienna’s Carltheater in 1913.  Due to the impending outbreak of World War I, it did not premiere until 1917 at the Opéra de Monte-Carlo featuring Gilda dalla Rizza and Tito Schipa.  Set in a Parisian salon, La rondine is the story of Magda, the glamorous mistress of wealthy banker, Rambaldo.  However, her yearning for romantic love drives her into the arms of the ardent and adoring young Ruggero.


Verdi: Rigoletto
Diana Damrau, Juan Diego Flórez, Zeljka Lucic
Sächsische Staatskapelle / Fabio Luisi
DVD available October 26 from Virgin Classics

In June 2008, Giuseppe Verdi temporarily replaced Richard Strauss as the presiding genius at Dresden’s Semperoper, when baritone Zeljko Lucic, soprano Diana Damrau, and tenor Juan Diego Flórez came together for a new production of Rigoletto, directed by Nikolaus Lehnhoff.  The production was conducted by Fabio Luisi, chief conductor of the Semperoper, General Music Director-elect of the Zurich Opera, and Principal Guest Conductor of the Metropolitan Opera.

Diana Damrau took on the role of Gilda, Rigoletto’s daughter, and was rapturously received.  According to Das Opernglas, she “caused a sensation with her immaculate coloratura, radiant high register, and skilful breath control, enough on their own to place her in the forefront of interpreters of the role.  But it was her capacity for filling each note with sincerity of spirit that made her portrayal so exceptional and drew ovations from the first-night audience.  This was no silly little girl, but the epitome of a human being who, though beyond corruption, finally falls victim to the hatred and egocentricity of other people.  As an actress, Diana Damrau brought her to life with natural grace and a sympathetic persona.”

Die Welt resorted to a more graphic evocation of the soprano’s art: “If the human ear had a G-spot, Diana Damrau’s voice would be better than any vibrator.  Has the world ever before heard Gilda’s aria as such an intensely sensual musical expression of an innocent girl’s sighs of longing? … Currently there is no one who sings this role better than this exceptional German soprano… . Love and death, desire and eternity are closely linked in this exemplary Verdi performance.”


Special compilations, boxed sets, and reissues

Simon Rattle Edition
Two new boxed sets and downloads available October 12 from EMI Classics

EMI Classics further enhances its celebration of Sir Simon Rattle’s 30th anniversary with the label with the release of the final two installments in its Simon Rattle Edition.  The edition – 81 CDs in all – was first introduced in 2007 and offers a fresh hearing of many previously deleted treasures.

Sir Simon Rattle Edition: The Second Viennese School 

This five-CD box set features many great works by Arnold Schoenberg, including Gurrelieder – a massive oratorio for five soloists, narrator, chorus, and orchestra. 

Sir Simon Rattle Edition: Beethoven 

The nine-CD box set includes Beethoven’s first two piano concertos (No. 1 in two versions, one with cadenzas supplied by Glenn Gould) and Beethoven’s only completed opera in its final version: Fidelio.


EMI Masters Series
20 new titles available October 12 from EMI Classics
EMI Classics launches a definitive new series of great classical music from a trove of the most notable and revered classical recordings ever made.  Available on CD and for digital download, this installment showcases EMI Classics’ greatest artists from today and yesteryear – including Sir Simon Rattle, Sviatoslav Richter, Sir Adrian Boult, and Itzhak Perlman – performing the greatest, and in many cases the most popular, repertoire.  All performances in the series were recorded, mastered, or re-mastered at the internationally renowned Abbey Road Studios in London.  These are the classic recordings that have long defined the legacy of EMI.
Sviatoslav Richter
Schubert: “Trout” Quintet, etc.
Antonio Pappano
Tchaikovsky: Symphony Nos. 4-6
Sir Thomas Beecham
French ballet music
Carlo Maria Giulini
Verdi: Requiem; Four Sacred Pieces
Otto Klemperer
Wagner: orchestral excerpts
Carlo Maria Giulini
Mozart: Requiem
André Previn
Orff: Carmina Burana
Samson Francois
Ravel: Piano Concertos, etc.
Jean Martinon
Saint-Saëns: complete symphonies
Aldo Ciccolini
Satie: Gymnopédies
Sir John Barbirolli
English string music
Georges Cziffra
Liszt: Seven Hungarian Rhapsodies
Sir Simon Rattle
Mahler: Symphony No. 8
Sabine Meyer
Mozart: Clarinet Concerto
Daniel Barenboim
Mozart: popular piano concertos
Sir Simon Rattle
Beethoven: Symphonies Nos. 5 and 6
Sviatoslav Richter, Mstislav Rostropovich, David Oistrakh
Beethoven: Triple Concerto
Itzhak Perlman
Brahms: Violin Concerto
Maurizio Pollini
Chopin: Piano Concerto No. 1
Adrian Boult
Elgar: “Enigma” Variations; Holst: The Planets
50 Best Series
Four new three-CD sets and downloads available October 12 from EMI Classics
EMI Classics’ attractively packaged and priced 50 Best series features three-CD sets surveying various genres of music, from symphonies, concertos, and solo instrumental works to chamber music, songs, and operas.  Details of each title follow.
50 Best Cello
Various Artists
CD 1: The Baroque Cello
CD 2: The Classical Cello
CD 3: The Romantic Cello
50 Best Chopin
Various Artists
CD 1: Waltzes Nos. 1-14; Berceuse in D-flat, Op. 57; Ballade No. 3; Fantaisie-impromptu in C-
          sharp minor, Op. 66
CD 2: 24 Preludes, Op. 28; Barcarolle in F-sharp, Op. 60; Polonaises
CD 3: Variations on “Là ci darem la mano” from Mozart’s Don Giovanni; Piano Concerto No. 1 in
          E minor, Op. 11; Piano Concerto No. 2 in F minor, Op. 21; Andante spianato et grand
          polonaise brillante in E-flat Op. 22; Krakowiak in F, Op. 14
50 Best Film
Various Artists
CD 1: The Great Blockbusters
CD 2: Favorite Movies
CD 3: Baroque Goes to the Cinema
50 Best Guitar
Various Artists
CD 1: Baroque and Before
CD 2: Spanish Guitar Vol. 1
CD 3: Spanish Guitar Vol. 2
Ten new mid-priced CDs and downloads available October 26 from Virgin Classics
Virgin Classics adds ten new titles to its mid-priced PREMIUM series, continuing a journey through the history of Virgin Classics with compelling releases from many artists still active on the label roster (a list of titles follows below).  The new releases join the previous 15 titles in the series and, like their predecessors, include original album artwork re-packaged with a modern and fresh series design.
Berlioz: La mort d’Orphée; Chant guerrier; Chant sacré
Villazón; Plasson
Scriabin: 24 Preludes, Op. 11; Piano Sonatas Nos. 4 and 10
Mikhail Pletnev, piano
Tchaikovsky: Cello Concerto; Variations on a Rococo Theme
Mork / Jansons
Llibre Vermell de Montserrat
Savall / Hespèrion XX
Sibelius: Kullervo
Paavo Järvi
Scarlatti: La Santissima Trinità
Fabio Biondi
Jommelli: Lamentazioni per il Mercoledi santo
Christophe Rousset
Mendelssohn: Incidental music to A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Op. 61
John Nelson
Opera Arias
Véronique Gens
Handel: Violin Sonatas
Kurosaki; Christie

EMI Classics and Virgin Classics artists on tour – fall 2010
October 23
Xuefei Yang: recital at Westmoreland Congregational Church (Bethesda, MD)
October 29
Christina Pluhar and L’Arpeggiata perform the music of Monteverdi and his contemporaries – repertoire heard on their debut release for Virgin Classics, Teatro d’Amore – with Philippe Jaroussky at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (New York, NY)
October 29 and 30
Ingrid Fliter: Beethoven Piano Concerto No. 1 with Utah Symphony / Thierry Fischer (Salt Lake City, UT)
October 29-31
Yannick Nézet-Séguin: Symphonies by Haydn and Mahler with Philadelphia Orchestra at Verizon Hall (Philadelphia, PA)
October 29 and 31
Sarah Chang: Bruch Concerto with Pittsburgh Symphony / Ludovic Morlot (Pittsburgh, PA)
November 5 and 6
Alison Balsom: Hummel Trumpet Concerto with Charlotte Symphony / Christopher Warren-Green (Charlotte, NC)
November 5-7
Xuefei Yang: Rodrigo’s Concerto de Aranjuez with Detroit Symphony / Joana Carneiro (Detroit, MI)
November 9
Alison Balsom: recital at the Schubert Club (Minneapolis, MN)
November 11-14
Ingrid Fliter: Ravel Piano Concerto with Dallas Symphony Orchestra / Jun Märkl (Dallas, TX)
November 16
David Fray: New York recital debut at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall features music by Bach and Schubert, repertoire heard on his first two Virgin Classics releases (New York, NY)
November 18, 19, and 21
Ingrid Fliter: De Falla’s Nights in the Garden of Spain with Atlanta Symphony / Jun Märkl (Atlanta, GA)
November 20
Alison Balsom in concert at Peoples’ Symphony Concerts (New York, NY)
November 22 – December 18
Yannick Nézet-Séguin: Verdi’s Don Carlo at the Metropolitan Opera (New York, NY)
December 1-4
Leif Ove Andsnes: Risor Chamber Music Festival on tour at Carnegie Hall (New York, NY)
December 17 – January 1
Sir Simon Rattle makes Metropolitan Opera debut conducting Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande (New York, NY)

For further information:

Visit EMI Classics’ YouTube channel for video previews of many of its new and recent releases:


Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group: (212) 625-2038, [email protected]

Jan Lee, EMI Classics: (212) 786-8963, [email protected]


# # #

© 21C Media Group, October 2010

Return to Press Room