Telarc, the first label to issue a digital release, has ceased production.
The founder, Robert Woods, will leave this month, along with the chief recording engineer, Michael Bishop. Half the workforce has been laid off – that’s 26 jobs – and the backlist becomes heritage. More details here.
Telarc had first call, as local patriots, on the superb Cleveland Orchestra and the quality of its sound was an audiophile’s delight. The label won 40 Grammys over the years and produced 800 recordings across several genres.
My guess is that its all-time bestseller was Wagner’s Ring Without Words, an improvement in certain respects on the original in a concept created by the conductor Lorin Maazel. Of late, the label blazed a trail for Paavo Järvi and his Cincinnati band. It has yet another version of the Gorecki third symphony coming up from Atlanta.
A sound philosophy, though, is not enough to save a label. Telarc, for all its merits, never took much risk by way of extending repertoire when the going was easy. I am really sad to see its purist values fall by the wayside and I fear that executives in the major labels will be encouraged by its fall to cut corners and compromise standards still further.
Telarc’s values, however, endure as a permanent record. Its disappearance suggests that, in times of technological and financial upheaval, only by using creative imagination as a driving force can a musical enterprise be saved from extinction.