Presto News - 21st September 2009
The vast majority of labels (both majors and independents) now have budget series where they typically re-issue older titles in order to give them a new lease of life. On these series you’ll generally find real gems and fantastic bargains mixed in with a few things which, to be brutally honest, aren’t very tempting even at budget price. However, one label that seems to consistently stick to the gems and bargains-only route is Australian Eloquence.
For those who are not familiar with the label, the first thing to say is ‘don’t be put off by the name’. It is only called Australian Eloquence because the man behind the label is Universal Australia’s Marketing Director of Classics and Jazz, Cyrus Meher-Homji. He founded the label ten years ago for the domestic market and since then has gradually built up a range of over 400 releases. Drawing on the vast catalogues of Decca, Philips and Deutsche Grammophon (as well as a few from Australian label ABC Classics) he has an almost unmatched selection of recordings to choose from. From what I understand, he basically draws up a wish list of recordings that aren’t available on the main labels at that time, and sends it to Universal headquarters in Europe for approval. They may say no if there are already plans to re-issue them on some other series or if there are contractual reasons why they are not allowed to, but otherwise he seems to be able to re-issue what he likes. A lot of Australian Eloquence releases are CD premieres so he’ll work from the master-tapes which are then re-mastered before release.
The main reason why Australian Eloquence has been such a success is I believe purely down to Cyrus Meher-Homji. As well as having an excellent knowledge of the retail record business, he clearly also has a deep knowledge and passion for the recordings sitting in Universal’s vaults and seems to have an acute awareness of repertoire gaps in the catalogue that need to be filled, as well as knowing which great artists are maybe less well represented than they should be.
One such artist who has recently been getting a lot of attention is the Swiss conductor Ernest Ansermet who made a great number of recordings for Decca in the 1950s and 60s. I will confess immediately that I am a massive Ansermet fan and I was very excited when I heard about the number of recordings coming out on Australian Eloquence. These Ansermet recordings are just one example though of the treasure trove of rare and wonderful recordings that Cyrus Meher-Homji has brought back to life on his label.
Australian Eloquence has been unavailable in the UK and generally quite hard to get outside Australia for a long time so it is well worth having a good look, especially as we’re currently offering 10% off until November 4th. You can view the Australian Eloquence Special Offer homepage here.
Chris O'Reilly - email@example.com
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