Sony swoop for EMI piano star

Sony swoop for EMI piano star


norman lebrecht

March 29, 2011

Expansionist Sony Classical has launched a dawn raid on bank-owned EMI to snatch one of its crown jewels, the Norwegian pianist, Leif Ove Andsnes.

It’s a blow for the former British label, which had nurtured the artist over two decades, and a coup for Sony to cash in just as Andsnes is winning world acclaim.

He will open with a Beethoven concerto cycle, recorded over three years with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. The only cloud on his new relationship is the question of whether Sony will allow him to record esoteric nordic repertoire. EMI bravely indulged all such whims.

Press release below:

Sony Classical is pleased to announce an exclusive agreement with the celebrated Norwegian pianist Leif Ove Andsnes to record the full cycle of Beethoven’s piano concertos with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Born in 1970, Andsnes has been performing internationally since he was nineteen years old and appears regularly in the world’s leading concert halls with the most renowned orchestras. His combination of superb technique and depth of interpretation have earned him great acclaim, and theNew York Times has described him as “a pianist of magisterial elegance, power and insight.”

“Beethoven – A Journey” will see Leif Ove Andsnes in partnership with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra for a three-year recording and performing commitment commencing in 2012 with the release of Pianos Concertos Nos. 1 & 3, followed by Concertos Nos. 2 & 4 in 2013 and the Fifth Piano Concerto and Choral Fantasy in 2014 on Sony Classical. Each performance will be recorded live in concert in Prague with Andsnes directing from the piano. The project culminates in the 2014-15 season when Andsnes and the Mahler Chamber Orchestra will re-unite for major residencies in North America, Europe and Asia performing the complete Beethoven cycle.

Leif Ove Andsnes says “I feel privileged to be joining the Sony Classical roster and look a lot forward to embarking on this personal journey to perform and record Beethoven’s complete piano concertos together with the Mahler Chamber Orchestra. Beethoven’s music is for me both the most human and deeply spiritual music there is, and I can’t wait to see where the next years will lead me in working on these magnificent pieces. I would like to thank both the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and Sony Classical for sharing such equal energy and enthusiasm for our common Beethoven journey.”

Bogdan Roscic, President of Sony Classical says: “We are very happy to start our relationship with Leif Ove with this massive project. It is literally a journey of three years and it will not just deliver the outstanding recordings for which he is known. Together with partners from other fields we want to create a unique tribute to Beethoven’s genius and explore why he holds such a special place in the pantheon of composers. It is a huge undertaking and we are proud to be a part of it.”

In the 2010-11 season Andsnes is pianist-in-residence with both the Bergen and Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and has toured with the London Philharmonic under Vladimir Jurowski and the Concertgebouw Orchestra under Mariss Jansons, performing Brahms’ Second Piano Concerto. This Spring he embarks on a major recital tour performing two sonatas by Beethoven and works by Brahms and Schoenberg with performances in Scandinavia (Copenhagen and Bergen), the States (Boston, Chicago and New York’s Carnegie Hall) as well as in central Europe (including Rome, St Petersburg, Berlin, Madrid, Vienna, Hamburg and Geneva).

In addition to concert performances with the world’s great orchestras, Andsnes excels as an interpreter of chamber music and pieces for solo piano, and can already look back on a long and distinguished career in recording, which ranges from Mozart and Schubert to Grieg and Rachmaninov and also includes a wide array of contemporary music. He has received numerous musical awards for his performances and recordings, among them the Royal Philharmonic Society’s Instrumentalist Award, five Gramophone and two Classical Brit Awards in the UK, the Preis der Deutschen Schallplattenkritik and the Echo Klassik Award in Germany, Diapason d’O
r and Choc de Classica in Fr
ance and the Record Geijutsu Academy Award in Japan.


  • David Finckel says:

    Hello Norman,
    Heard anything about the Emerson Quartet lately?