The Philadelphia Orchestra is getting on the entertainment superhighway.
After years of distributing downloads through its own online store, the orchestra has signed a deal that makes its music available through iTunes, amazon.com, Rhapsody, eMusic and HDtracks and others.
Philadelphia Orchestra recordings made and released by commercial labels (EMI, DG) have long been available through these online retailers, but with this deal with Ioda, the orchestra will be releasing live recordings made in Verizon Hall. The publishing schedule will not include performances from the current season, but from previous seasons, at least for now.
Recordings will be released both as high-quality 256 kbps MP3s through most retailers and, via HDtracks, in FLAC, the format preferred by audiophiles.
The orchestra lost its long-held recording contract with EMI Classics in 1996 and has since tried various methods for distributing its recorded sound. Its last record deal was with Ondine, the relatively small Finnish label. The Philadelphia Orchestra was once among the most recorded ensembles in the world, and recording income accounted for 25 percent of its annual budget.
Details on the first batch of newly released material is still a bit sketchy, but they include several dozen works, including: With Sawallisch conducting, the two Brahms serenades for orchestra, works of Schumann, Bruckner, Mendelssohn, Schubert; with Eschenbach, the Beethoven symphonies; and a few releases with Dutoit, Rossen Milanov and Rafael Frühbeck de Burgos.