First classical fallout from EMI's collapse

First classical fallout from EMI's collapse


norman lebrecht

December 12, 2011

The Belcea Quartet, pride of the label’s young artists, had been told before the company was sold off that it was not in a position any more to issue a Beethoven cycle. So the Belcea are no longer EMI artists, and others are likely to follow their drift.

The Beethoven cycle will appear – on ZigZag.

Zig-Zag Territoires is pleased to announce the start of its collaboration with the Belcea Quartet. The foursome’s first recording of Beethoven’s Complete String Quartets will be released in May 2012.
Throughout the next 12 months the Belcea Quartet will be performing all the Beethoven quartets at London’s Wigmore Hall as well as in Aldeburgh (where the recordings are made), Liverpool, Gateshead, Hamburg, Vienna, Schwarzenberg and Stockholm. There will also be a half-cycle at Carnegie Hall and Genoa will see a full cycle over the 2012/13 season. The ensemble has over past years gained an enviable reputation as one of the world’s leading string quartets. Taking both the British and international chamber music circuit by storm, it continues to consistently receive critical acclaim for its performances. Established at the Royal College of Music in 1994, the Quartet has since been coached by the Chilingirian, Amadeus and Alban Berg Quartets. It is the Associate Ensemble at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and, since the 2010/11 season, Ensemble in Residence at the Vienna Konzerthaus. Zig-Zag Territoires’, part of the Outhere group of labels, release of Volume I of Beethoven’s Complete String Quartets in May 2012 will coincide with their performance of the complete cycle at the Vienna Konzerthaus between May 2nd and 12th.
Outhere is an independent musical production and publishing company whose discs are published under the catalogues Æon, Alpha, Fuga Libera, Outnote, Ramée, Ricercar, Phi and Zig-Zag Territoires. Each catalogue has its own well defined identity. Our discs and our digital products cover a repertoire ranging from ancient and classical music to the contemporary, jazz and world music. We work with great artists and established ensembles, but we are also keen to invest in the development of young talent. The group builds on three fundamental principles: relations, quality and efficiency: the personal relation between an artist and his trusted art director, the highest quality in the musical selection and in the editorial work, and efficiency, because we know that our activities can only thrive with innovative management methods.
RSK Entertainment is a specialist in classical music sales, distribution, marketing and publicity. One of our fortes has been to take overseas labels and create a foundation for the artists within the culture of the UK, encouraging their profiles to develop naturally. Labels in the care of RSK include the Outhere labels highlighted above, Channel Classics, Supraphon, Brilliant Classics, NMC Records, Regent Records and Toccata Classics. A recent highlight was the Pavel Haas Quartet gaining the Recording of the Year in the 2011 Gramophone Awards for their CD of Dvorak quartets on Supraphon.
For further information please contact Matt Groom at RSK


  • Petros Linardos says:

    I see this as good news. In their glory days, the major labels had too much control over the music scene. We still have a lot of good recorded music, from more and more labels. This is democracy.

  • I interviewed Krzysztof Chorzelski, violist of the Belcea Quartet, a few months ago and he told me about their split with EMI. The interview is at ClassicalSource:

  • Do we really need the big labels any more? Gardiner’s Bach on his own label is miles better than anything DG would have done. It was a great thing that they pulled out. Hopefully the Belcea’s will find the same.

    Aldeburgh should launch their own label… I am sure it would go brilliantly

  • Old Cynic says:

    I didn’t know EMI had actually collapsed. Are they not releasing any records any more?
    I’m sure that Mr Lebrecht has been in touch with someone at EMI to confirm all the facts about the Belceas in this matter though.

    • They have collapsed in the sense that they have been bought out by Universal and Sony, ceasing to be an independent operator.

      • P Ross says:

        Does this mean that any new recordings made by Rattle,Pappano etc will be recorded by Universal and NOT by EMI,and where does this leave the huge back catalogue of EMI ??

        • Old Cynic says:

          So not really collapsed then, just changed hands.

          I’m sure Mr Lebrecht is hot on the case doing his research to find all this out for us though. i would guess that if Universal were about to start recording Rattle and Pappano from this moment onwards, both gentlemen would have had something quite public to say about it. I guess we’ll have to watch this space…

  • Yi-Peng Li says:

    Mr. Lebrecht, please could I clarify something with you? Your post mentions this as a first casualty of the EMI buyout. However, EMI cancelled the release of this Belcea Beethoven cycle before the buyout, so it wouldn’t have cancelled the release suddenly after the Universal buyout of the recorded music division. Please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not challenging anyone’s intelligence, but I would just like to be sure if the causality is right. I would just like to be sure that there isn’t any contradiction.