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 Recording of the Week  The year ahead and our latest new development

As 2011 draws towards a close I thought I’d give you a brief preview of some of the things we have to look forward to in the year ahead.

As usual there are a number of composer and artist anniversaries to keep an eye on. Both EMI and Decca have recently released box sets in preparation for the 150th anniversary of British composer Frederick Delius’s birth, which falls at the end of January. Both have already sold well and the EMI one is actually included amongst our box set best sellers list below. Born in the same year as Delius was Debussy and I know that Decca and DG have plans for him as well as his compatriot Ravel whose 75th anniversary of his death is also marked next year.

I fagiolini's Gabrieli disc promises to be quite something
I fagiolini's Gabrieli disc promises to be quite something

Going back another couple of hundred years and next year will also be the four hundredth anniversary of the death of Giovanni Gabrieli. Gabrieli was a master of the Venetian High Renaissance marked by large-scale choral writing and multiple choirs. Robert Hollingworth and his group I Fagiolini achieved massive success this year with their world première recording of Striggio’s 40-part Mass – it won the Gramophone’s Early Music Award for 2011, and was our second best selling disc of the year (behind the Pavel Haas Quartet’s Dvorak recording). Gabrieli’s Magnificat will apparently be the centrepiece on their next disc, and scored for seven choirs (the Striggio had a mere 5), it promises to be quite something!

Equally interesting I think are some of the artist anniversaries next year. Amongst others 2012 marks the hundredth anniversary of the birth of the great Hungarian-British conductor Sir Georg Solti. He made a large number of terrific and important recordings including the first ever complete studio Wagner Ring cycle. This one has always been available, but that isn’t the case with a number of his other opera recordings by composers like Strauss and Verdi. In many cases these are equally distinguished and it will be great that this anniversary gives Decca an obvious excuse to make them all available again... please?!...

I’ll be picking up on many of the above in my newsletters throughout the year, as well as other composers and artists reaching milestones.

From our perspective the exciting news is that we’ve quietly just launched our latest new initiative – downloads. So far this covers only about a quarter of the items which we currently offer on CD but with labels like Chandos, BIS, Pentatone and Naxos all present, there are some very good discs included. For those familiar with downloading already and the plethora of formats and options available, at the moment you can buy from us at CD-quality FLAC (16bit 44.1kHz), or MP3 (at 320kbps). You can buy individual tracks, works or whole albums.

In 2012 we’ll be adding many more discs and hopefully as the year goes on we’ll be in a position to offer some higher quality audio formats as well. I’m not a big download person myself but the potential to listen to music at a higher quality than CD (providing you have the equipment to notice it!) is I think exciting. Furthermore, downloading is increasingly becoming the only option for a number of discs which are no longer available on CD.

If you’re not into downloads though don’t worry! We’re not about to abandon CDs, SACDs, DVDs or Blu-rays. In fact we have over seven thousand more items available now than we did a year ago, and I expect that figure to increase again in 2012.

It only remains for me to say a huge thank you for your custom over the past year, to wish you a happy end to the year, and a successful and musically fulfilling 2012.