MPhil Launches Own Label

Provisional album art for 2016 Munich Philharmonic CDs

By ANDREW POWELL
Published: July 18, 2016

MUNICH — Late to an unprofitable game, the Munich Philharmonic on Friday announced a new recording label of its own, “MPhil,” in partnership with Warner Classics.

Its purpose? To broaden the audience.

Content will be sourced live, mainly from concerts at the orchestra’s Gasteig home. But archive releases are promised too, as are “celebrity” conductors. Distribution: physical media, downloads, and streaming offers.

The label will issue up to six titles yearly with emphasis “on the abundant German repertory and works by composers with whom the ensemble has been closely connected since its founding 125 years ago.”

Exactly how MPhil Chefdirigent Valery Gergiev fits this artistic focus is unclear. Anyway, the first titles appear in September: a symphony each by Bruckner and Mahler with provisional album art showing Gergiev’s name twice the size of the orchestra’s.

Which begs a question, given the maestro’s affinities and the hopelessly saturated market. Who in their right mind would want a Gergiev recording of any Bruckner or Mahler symphony? The MPhil’s archivist?

To be sure, the new imprint will expose the Munich Philharmonic’s work in the way BR Klassik and Berliner Philharmoniker Recordings already do for its “competitors,” to cite only German examples.

But such ventures nowadays hemorrhage serious euros.

MPhil releases will follow, after a delay of at least a year, broadcasts of the same performances via outlets like Bayerischer Rundfunk.

Warner’s Erato label, meanwhile, has recently issued live recordings from 2013 and 2014 of Gergiev’s Mariinsky Orchestra: the Shostakovich Cello Concertos as expansively shaped by Gautier Capuçon.

Image © Warner Classics

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