Highlights of 2011
Looking back, 2011 has been a year full of highlights. Whether it's been success for our classical recordings, or our jazz artists or building our Studio Master catalogue, it has been a fantastic year for new music.
2011's stand out recordings from Linn's classical artists
As Gramophone Editor James Inverne put it: 'Having won Gramophone's coveted Label of the Year award in 2010, Linn Records are not a label to have rested on their laurels. Instead, as we have come to expect from them, the slate of fine new releases continued apace.'
2011 began with a first for Linn Records: our collaboration with the Classical Opera Company launched with the release of our very first opera recording, ‘Artaxerxes' - difficult to pronounce, but easy to enjoy! Named ‘Choice' by Opera Now and ‘Disc of the Month' by Opera and gaining five star reviews from BBC Music, SA-CD.net and Audiophile Audition this thrilling recording set the stage for the year ahead.
2011 was a year of premiere recordings. Prince Consort and Cappella Nova benefited from close associations with composers Stephen Hough and James MacMillan who wrote new works especially for them. Percussionist Kuniko Kato gained a global fan base with her new arrangements of works by Steve Reich who celebrated his 75th birthday in 2011. Anniversaries were also commemorated by Magnificat who released two recordings to celebrate the 450th anniversary of Renaissance composer Philippe Rogier, whilst Retrospect Trio continued to celebrate the 350th birthday of Purcell with the long awaited follow up ‘Twelve Sonatas in Three Parts'.
Linn has established a fine reputation for Early Music and Baroque recordings over the years and we added several more to the catalogue in 2011. ‘About as near-perfect a recording as I've heard' was how Gramophone described William Carter's latest album of Sor guitar music. No less impressive was the response to ‘JS Bach Easter and Ascension Oratorios' by Retrospect Ensemble and Phantasm's ‘William Byrd: Complete Consort Music', both of which were named Finalists at the 2011 Gramophone Awards; the latter even entered the US Billboard Chart!
A great year for Linn's ladies of jazz
2011 brought a return to the recording studio for three of Linn's most popular jazz singers: Barb Jungr, Claire Martin and Carol Kidd.
Barb re-visited a project close to her heart with a new album of Bob Dylan songs which coincided with the great man's 70th birthday. Barb took her electrifying live show to the States and was met with an amazing response. NY Culture described ‘Man In The Long Black Coat' as ‘the most significant vocal album of the 21st century thus far'.
Linn favourites Claire and Carol both released intimate duo albums featuring the talents of Richard Rodney Bennett and guitarist Nigel Clark respectively. ‘A near-perfect match of singer and accompanist...' is how BBC Music described Claire's celebration of Cy Coleman songs, whilst the spine-tingling intimacy of Carol's live performance was captured perfectly on ‘Tell Me Once Again'. Both artists gained new accolades: Carol Kidd was named ‘Best Jazz Vocalist' at the Scottish Jazz Awards, whilst Claire Martin was appointed an O.B.E.
A wealth of brilliant new Studio Masters
As well as adding to our own catalogue of recordings we also added to our catalogue of Studio Master downloads, which now numbers over 300 titles! There has been so much great new music released this year we have found it very hard to pick our 'best of' list this year, so instead we took our lead from you - this is what you have been listening to this year.
The ever reliable Ozella Music gave us the latest offering from Helge Lien Trio, ‘Natsukashii'. Writing a customer review D. Hafer stated: ‘I recommend you pay attention, something special is happening here.'
A new partnership with the Evosound label introduced Susan Wong, famous across Asia for her soft and sultry vocal style and laid-back music. Her album ‘511' proved a hit, being one of the most popular of the year. Yarlung artist David Fung released ‘Evening Conversations' which gained the young pianist favourable comparisons to Martha Argerich; the LA Times stated that 'his performance outshone hers'. Praise indeed!
Our friends at Just Music created an exclusive compilation just for Linn featuring tracks from the legendary Jon Hopkins to the fastly rising stars of Laki Mera to the mesmerising Echaskech. As Pete Lawrence, founder of Big Chill said, 'The understated irony of the label's name is the essence of its appeal....at the end of the day, it may just be music, but in this case with the rare power to quietly shake the soul.'
We look forward to adding many more wonderful recordings in Studio Master quality next year, as well as fantastic new releases on Linn: highlights include Mozart from the Classical Opera Company, Berlioz from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra under Robin Ticciati, Handel from the Dunedin Consort and a new Claire Martin album featuring Kenny Barron.