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Sir Simon Rattle: 30th anniversary with EMI Classics & Met debut

Over the course of a long and fruitful exclusive relationship with EMI Classics, Sir Simon Rattle has recorded more than 250 works, covering a broad spectrum of repertoire, and with some of the world’s pre-eminent ensembles – including the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic, and the Berlin Philharmonic.  Last month, EMI Classics marked the occasion of Rattle’s 30th anniversary at the label with a new recording – described by NPR Music as “drop-dead gorgeous” – of Tchaikovsky’s beloved Nutcracker ballet and the final two installments of its 81-CD Simon Rattle Edition.  Now, as his relationship with EMI Classics enters its fourth decade, Rattle heads to New York City to begin a new relationship, when on December 17 he makes his long-awaited Metropolitan Opera debut, conducting Debussy’s hauntingly beautiful opera, Pelléas et Mélisande (five performances through Jan 1).  While in the Big Apple, Rattle will also conduct the young musicians of Ensemble ACJW and violinist Christian Tetzlaff in a program of Ligeti, Richard Strauss, and Rameau at Carnegie’s Zankel Hall (Dec 19).
Sir Simon Rattle’s contribution to the catalogue and legacy of EMI Classics has been immeasurable, an inspiring and far-ranging body of work that has been revisited in recent seasons with the release of several special boxed sets.  Last month’s release of music from the Second Viennese School and Beethoven’s Complete Symphonies completed the label’s 81-CD Simon Rattle Edition.  With the Berlin Philharmonic alone, Rattle has won three Grammy Awards in the US; three Classical Brit and three Gramophone Awards in the UK; and two Echo Klassik Awards in Germany.  Simon Rattle became Chief Conductor and Artistic Director of the Berlin Philharmonic in September 2002, and EMI’s new contract with Rattle and the orchestra calls for a dozen new recordings over the next three years.  The conductor recently selected some of his favorite EMI Classics releases for discussion on NPR Music:
When Rattle tours the US with the Berlin Philharmonic, his highly-anticipated performances are always highlights of the season.  This December, New York audiences also have the opportunity to experience Rattle’s music-making in a venue entirely new to him: the Metropolitan Opera.  In good company with several other world-renowned conductors who have just made long-awaited Met debuts – Daniel Barenboim and Riccardo Muti among them – Rattle will conduct five performances (Dec 17 – Jan 1) of Debussy’s sole opera, Pelléas et Mélisande, one of the seminal works of the 20th century.  Adapted from Maurice Maeterlinck’s Symbolist play of the same name, which also inspired works by composers as diverse as Fauré, Schoenberg, and Sibelius, Debussy’s Pelléas et Mélisande was first performed in Paris in 1902.  It is an elusive, evocative, and endlessly fascinating score, in which Debussy uses his signature command of harmony to create of an emotionally-charged world suffused with shadow and light, suspicion and tragic love.
Rattle’s recording with the Berlin Philharmonic of Debussy’s La mer and other orchestral works was Gramophone’s Record of the Month in October 2005.  Reviewer Andrew Farach-Colton noted, “The clarification of the music’s intricately layered textures [in La mer] is revelatory… . In short, a dazzling disc.”  Rattle’s performances of music by Debussy and his compatriot Ravel are also available in a five-CD set of French orchestral works in the Simon Rattle Edition.
Recent EMI Classics releases from Sir Simon Rattle
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 has released 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 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.
Simon Rattle Edition
Two new boxed sets and downloads available October 12 from EMI Classics
EMI Classics further enhanced 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.
Simon Rattle Edition: The Second Viennese School
This five-CD boxed set features many great works by Arnold Schoenberg, including Gurrelieder – a massive oratorio for five soloists, narrator, chorus, and orchestra.
Simon Rattle Edition: Beethoven
The nine-CD boxed 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 – Fidelio – in its final version.
Sir Simon Rattle: Upcoming performances in New York
December 17, 2010 – January 1, 2011
Metropolitan Opera (debut)
Debussy: Pelléas et Mélisande
December 19, 2010
Carnegie Hall (Zankel Hall)
Ensemble ACJW, with soloist Christian Tetzlaff
Ligeti: Violin Concerto
R. Strauss: Metamorphosen, a study for 23 solo strings
Rameau: Suite from Les Boréades
Ligeti: Mysteries of the Macabre (with soprano Barbara Hannigan)





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