Orchestra Wellington "LIVE"10 January 2019 by Marc Taddei
Orchestra Wellington released the first orchestral LP in New Zealand in over a generation at the final subscription concert of 2018! “LIVE” is a recording of Beethoven’s 1st and 3rd symphonies, recorded live in concert the previous season. The genesis of this project started with the noted NZ music critic, John Button. Among his many interests, John is the owner of Concordance Recordings. I had previously recorded Berlioz’ Harold in Italy and the Erdelyi reconstruction of the Bartok Viola Concerto with the NZSO for his label a few years ago.
John has been a great critic of the orchestra over the years, and his insights have always been helpful. After listening to the orchestra’s performance of Beethoven’s 1st symphony, he felt that we could have the makings of an excellent CD – one which he felt would be very interesting to overseas critics and listeners, as he felt sure that people would be impressed with the standard of the regional orchestras in New Zealand. As we were performing the Eroica later in the year, we found a perfect accompaniment. Happily, the performance went very well, and John Button wrote in the Dominion Post, “We knew that the orchestra was sure footed in music of the period and the playing here was superbly stylish from all sections. The result was the finest ‘Eroica’ I have heard for a very long time”.
It was at this point that the orchestra’s Marketing Manager, Marek Peszynski, suggested that we release a double gatefold LP at the same time. He didn’t have to suggest twice – I was immediately on board!
We decided to make a statement with the packaging of the album, so we chose to press the albums in coloured 180 gram vinyl at a German pressing plant, using the colours of Orchestra Wellington. The design of the album was taken care of by Spencer Levine, who is also the man behind Orchestra Wellington’s unique marketing look.
Using the Radio NZ recordings, we were able to clean up the performances using takes from the dress rehearsals. To do this, we went straight to the best Classical Producer in New Zealand, Wayne Laird of ATOLL Records.
So, how has the recording sold? Well, the album went straight to #1 on the NZ Classical Charts, peaked at #6 on the NZ Album Chart, and even briefly crept into the Top 40!
This extraordinary result is a testament to the support that we enjoy from our wonderful audience! It is further evidence (if any was needed) that one of the secrets to lasting success for performing arts organisations is to meaningfully engage their audience. I am flabbergasted and grateful for the support that our audience shows us!
In addition to the fabulous sales of the album, the LP also generated considerable interest nationwide. Marek was interviewed on Radio New Zealand by Jesse Mulligan (listen to the interview here) and General Manager, Kirsten Mason and I were interview on a different programme (listen to the interview here). The value of the publicity that the orchestra has achieved for this release is well in excess of the cost of the production of the albums!
As an audiophile, I was really happy with the natural sound of the Michael Fowler Centre that the engineers at Radio NZ were able to achieve.
I hope that if you have purchased the album, you have enjoyed the performances! If you are interested in purchasing either the CD or the limited edition gatefold LP, please follow this link.
Will Orchestra Wellington release another album in the future? I think the odds of that are very high! Watch this space – we have a great cycle of works that are crying out to be recorded! Next time, I plan to record the orchestra in high-resolution DXD (352.8kHz/24 bit), pressing to vinyl from the master, with the CD available at the normal 44.1kHz/16 bit standard. It should be fun to compare the different formats….