Death of French label founder, 75RIP
The death has been reported of Alain Coblence, founder of andante.com, a short-lived classical label and website of the early 2000s, and controversial instigator of the 1990s European Mozart Foundation.
Coblence was private attorney to Yves Saint Laurent’s fabulously wealthy business partner Pierre Bergé. His suppressed personal ambition was to be a conductor. I found him at once obsequious and menacing, an unpleasant combination. But there was no denying his consuming appetite for music.
Coblence riled many musicians in central Europe with his EMF, which was supposed to distribute largesse but seemed chiefly devoted to taking over historical buildings.
Here‘s Allan Kozinn’s 2001 NY Times interview with him. Should be interesting to see if he gets a Times obit.
Distasteful and menacing he may have been, but for us collectors interested in older recordings and performance practice, those Andante sets were (and still are) invaluable. I’ve learned so much and had so much listening pleasure from them. Philadelphia/Stokowski, the Ravel recordings, Walter doing Mahler in Vienna, and so much more. And the production quality was so nice. Too bad it didn’t last.
Agreed as the production and execution was excellent even if they were high end like Pristine Audio. ‘49 Szell ROSENKAVALIER, ‘37 & ‘57 Toscanini & Karajan FALSTAFF, ‘37 Toscanini MEISTERSINGER, Walter MAHLER and others.
Ah yes, andante. A bit of a mess, with its attempt at branding archival box sets as “luxury” goods, to its ambitious but editorially compromised website (attempting to cover the same entities that paid everyone’s salaries), to its constant veneration of the Vienna Phil and the Paris Opera.
The company overspent on lavish, loft-like offices on West 22nd Street and had an unpleasant, petty corporate culture. It went the way of many dot-coms of that era, just a little later than most.