The Hallé, for over 150 years one of Britain’s most distinguished orchestras, launched its own CD label in 2003 to great critical acclaim. The catalogue, now comprising some twenty-two titles has been made available digitally in its entirety for the first time through a new collaboration with The Classical Shop.
The Hallé label has attracted widespread praise since it’s ‘triple’ launch of Elgar’s First Symphony, the Enigma Variations and Nielsen’s Fifth Symphony.
‘This is a magnificent beginning for the Hallé’s record label. I doubt if [Elgar’s First Symphony] was ever better played… The Sunday Times
‘Even seasoned ears will find fresh things in these recordings. New buyers need look no further.’ The Daily Telegraph on Enigma Variations
Since 2003 Sir Mark Elder and the Hallé have produced some of the finest new recordings of Elgar’s major works right up to our most recent release of Elgar’s Violin Concerto with soloist Thomas Zehetmair, together with a selection of less recorded English musical jewels. Shostakovich, Richard Strauss, Wagner and Debussy have all featured prominently as the catalogue has grown and developed.
Choral music features strongly across the label, including Anne Schwanewilms wonderful performance of Strauss lieder, Anja Kampe’s Liebestod from Tristan and Isolde and a superlative ensemble performance led by Bryn Terfel of Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, which won the Classic FM Gramophone Choral Award in 2009.
Nearly all Hallé CDs are studio recordings, though there are a small number of notable exceptions drawn from exceptional live performances, and critics have praised the quality of the recorded sound as well as that of the musical performances.
One of the Hallé’s proudest partnerships has been with the British composer Colin Matthews, for many years Associate Composer with the Orchestra. Colin’s recordings with us include his Horn Concerto, Alphabicycle Order, and, soon to be unified on one disc, all 24 Debussy Preludes, which Matthews orchestrated to overwhelming acclaim. These are also available divided on separate releases with other works, the first of which (teamed with La Mer) won the much sort-after Diapason d’Or.
The Hallé and Sir Mark Elder
Founded in Manchester by the pianist and conductor Charles Hallé in 1858, Britain’s longest established permanent professional symphony orchestra gave its first concert in the city’s Free Trade Hall on 30 January of that year. Following the death of Sir Charles Hallé, the orchestra continued to develop under the guidance of such distinguished figures as Hans Richter, Sir Hamilton Harty and Sir John Barbirolli.
Sir Mark Elder, who was knighted for services to music in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2008, became Music Director in 2000, since when the Hallé has received increasing acclaim both here and abroad. The Royal Philharmonic Society honoured Sir Mark with the Conductor of the Year Award in 2006 and, the previous year, the Hallé was presented with the Ensemble Award. The Hallé, BBC Philharmonic and the Royal Northern College of Music were awarded the South Bank Show classical music award for ‘Shostakovich, His Heroes and Comrades’, a collaboration which marked the centenary of Shostakovich’s birth in 2006. The Hallé won this award again in 2010 with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra for ‘Nielsen: Inextinguishable’, a collaboration celebrating the work of Carl Nielsen in 2009. Throughout 2010 the Hallé collaborated with the BBC Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and The Bridgewater Hall in a highly acclaimed complete cycle of Mahler’s symphonies.
In 1996, the Hallé moved to its new home, The Bridgewater Hall, where it presents over 70 concerts a year. Making over 40 appearances annually throughout the rest of Britain, the Hallé attracts large and enthusiastic audiences both in Manchester and beyond. Its reputation for artistic excellence and versatility has led to many international tours as well as frequent broadcasts and televised performances. At the beginning of the 2005–06 season, for the first time in its history, the Hallé appointed a Principal Guest Conductor, Cristian Mandeal. This season, he is followed in the post by Markus Stenz.
The Hallé's family of ensembles includes the Hallé Choir, which was founded alongside the orchestra in 1858, the Hallé Youth Choir led by Gregory Batsleer, the Hallé Children's Choir directed by Shirley Court and the Hallé Youth Orchestra, which is directed by the Hallé's Assistant Conductor. Ewa Strusiñska took up the position in 2008 and she will be followed in post by Andrew Gourlay from September 2010. After a highly successful concert at The Bridgewater Hall in April 2010, the Hallé Harmony Youth Orchestra, directed by James Lowe, have now completed their project, and the experiences of the young people will be shown next season in three documentary style programmes for Channel 4.