Exclusive: Hyperion is guaranteed its independence

Exclusive: Hyperion is guaranteed its independence


norman lebrecht

March 14, 2023

We’ve been burrowing the small print of the Universal Music takeover of the iconic Hyperion label.

The deal is to be formally announced later today and there are some encouraging signs bbetweenn the lines.

Hyperion will retain its identity, editorial autonomy and integrity alongside DG, Decca and the other Universal labels.

Simon Perry will remain editorial director, continuing a family legacy that goes back 43 years and 2,500 recordings. Hyperion’s distinctive artists – Angela Hewitt, Stephen Hough and the like – are content with the new alignment and remain on board.

Hyperion was always a quirky label with a passionate fan base. It will now have access to advanced technologies without sacrificing its mandate or its traditions. We understand it will continue production at the same level, around three releases a month.

One insider tells us: ‘Hyperion was basically a bundle of excellent freelancers coordinated by Simon Perry, the payments made by his wife Alison, aided in the back room by long-serving production and website manager Nick Flower and booklet editor Todd Harris, with Edward Taylor sorting licensing and copyright. Everything else was freelance.’

All of those roles will continue.

pictured: Ted Perry, Hyperion’s founder.



  • Minnesota says:

    Great news, for a change (at least for the time being).

  • Barry Guerrero says:

    Coinciding with the timing of the Apple classical streaming business, maybe things will work out. Like it or not, the only way to ‘expand’ the appreciation of classical music is to make it available to folks through more contemporary ‘platforms’ (yes, I hate that word too). . . . I can just picture somebody going to lunch with a friend, while wanting to tell them all about the P-Diddy show they went to. But their friend keeps staring at their phone. Then the sound of Angela Hewitt playing Bach Partitas rudely wafts through the cafe, via the accursed smart phone. It’s a stretch, but . . .

  • Marty says:

    I am so happy.

  • David says:

    Sounds good. Interested to see whether the new management/owners change the not-on-Spotify, etc. policy from the past

    • Ian Cole says:

      I agree with you David. The absence of Hyperion from streaming music platforms seems out of sync with the Classical music industry generally. I know they need to make money but shelling out £££s to listen to discs only once or twice is expensive and is just not on for a lot of people. Surely better to buy subscriptions to Spotify, IDAGIO etc. Hough and Hewitt might be great but their output isn’t affordable.

    • EricB says:

      They probably won’t have much choice on commercial and marketing decisions. The “independance” seems to concern only the artistic direction.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    Sounds encouraging. Thanks for bringing us this positive update.

  • Tony Sanderson says:

    My suggestion for Hyperion – issue some box sets of, for example, the romantic piano concerto series.

    • microview says:

      Oh no! Like the 6,000,000CD Abbado, just out this month?

      • Giles says:

        I’ve just realised that the entire Abbado complete DG etc recordings edition is available “free” on Amazon Prime (along with, for example, all Chandos new releases). How does this make economic sense for record companies? Serious question.

  • Peter Esq says:

    Sorry to say like any acquisition things will change and not necessarily for the better. Hope I am wrong.

  • Ludwig's Van says:

    Let’s see for how long that will last…

  • MWnyc says:

    Will Universal allow Hyperion to continue its policy of keeping all of its back catalogue available? The only times I know of that a Hyperion CD has gone out of print were just for a few months before the titles were re-released under the budget imprint Helios.

  • sonicsinfonia says:

    As Philips did?

    • Peter San Diego says:

      What were the public terms of the Philips acquisition? Were any assurances of independence given?

  • Gregory Walz says:

    This is good news, at least for the near future.  

    The Utah Symphony’s next release on Hyperion Records is Messiaen’s (From the Canyons to the Stars…), which is a “studio” recording that was made in Abravanel Hall in Salt Lake City, Utah from June 4-6, 2022, with the sound engineer and producer Andres Villalta at the controls.  The vibrant and appropriate cover art is by Christina Eve, who is a music color synesthete, like Messiaen was during his compositional career.

    The orchestra performed the work in its entirety the previous Thursday, June 2, 2022, in Springdale, Utah, at the entrance to Zion National Park, within the O. C. Tanner Amphitheater, an outdoor venue.  I was unable to attend that concert.  There were rehearsals on Tuesday May 31 and Wednesday June 1st in Abravanel Hall.  Stefan Dohr, the principal horn of the Berlin Philharmonic, played the solo first horn part for the June 2nd public performance, and during the rehearsal and recording sessions.  

    During the 2019-2020 and 2021-2022 seasons, ten of the twelve movements from Canyons were performed twice in Abravanel Hall, mixed in with other major works of other composers.  

    There was some planning for a commercial recording of Strauss’s Eine Alpensinfonie with Hyperion Records, but this was replaced by the recording of Canyons.

    Since Thierry Fischer becomes music director emeritus of the Utah Symphony at the end of this season (after being music director since September 2009), it is unfortunately quite uncertain as to whether the orchestra will be releasing any more commercial recordings on Hyperion Records.  I know that none have been made so far this season (2022-2023).  

    This is also likely because Fischer has been music director of the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra since 2020, with his contract recently renewed to 2027, and just last year he became music director of the Orquesta Sinfónica de Castilla y León, which, in a most interesting fashion, has released two commercial recordings (of Shostakovich’s Symphony No.10 and Rachmaninov’s Symphony No.2) on its own in-house label.  
    Thierry Fischer may end up making commercial recordings for Hyperion with these two orchestras rather than with the Utah Symphony as music director emeritus, where it looks like he will conduct two weekends per season for the next few years.  

    Conductor David Robertson was named the Utah Symphony’s inaugural creative partner in December 2022, for the next three seasons.  Although he has never recorded for Hyperion, perhaps he could elicit further interest by the record label in recording the Utah Symphony.  I have heard that he will likely conduct three weekends for the next three seasons.

    In any case, the Utah Symphony’s 2023-2024 season will be released publicly today, so this may indicate whether any more commercial recordings are on tap for Hyperion Records.  I was hoping that Thierry Fischer and the Utah Symphony would record a Honegger symphony cycle for Hyperion with other assorted orchestral works, but, unfortunately, the orchestra only performed the Symphony No.3, “Liturgique,” early last year, in three performances.  

    These five commercial recordings on Hyperion Records have helped to increase, sustain, and transform the Utah Symphony’s previously well-respected profile into one known for superb performances and programming. 

    My favorite cover art for a Hyperion record is Caspar David Friedrich’s The Stages of Life (c.1835), for Howard Shelley’s recording of Louis Spohr’s Symphonies Nos. 8 and 10, with the Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana, since I am partial to landscape depictions.

    So here’s to the continued success of Hyperion Records, with all of its roster of artists, and especially to its exceptional selection of cover artwork — may it live long and prosper.