International Classical Artists – formerly Van Walsum Management – is launching its own recording label. The artist management company is home to some of the world’s leading musicians, including conductors Kent Nagano and Michael Tilson Thomas, pianist Stephen Kovacevich, violinist Daniel Hope and viola player Yuri Bashmet.
The label – to be called ICA Classics – aims to release 34 DVDs and 24 CDs per year, of both new recordings by current artists and archive material dating back to 1954.
The initiative is being overseen by the company’s chairman Stephen Wright, who took over Van Walsum in 2008, and whose former label-related projects include The Art of Conducting series and the BBC Legends series, as well as being executive producer on Kenneth Branagh’s 2006 film of The Magic Flute.
The first batch of 10 DVDs will appear in January. From archives including those of the BBC, WDR in Cologne and the Boston Symphony Orchestra come films of Rudolf Kempe, Charles Munch, Sir Georg Solti, David Oistrakh, Garrick Ohlsson and the Beaux Arts Trio. All these performances are receiving their first commercial releases. New films include recent performances from Hartmut Haenchen (Mahler’s Symphony No 6) and Antoni Wit (Szymanowski’s Symphonies Nos 3 and 4).
Eight CD releases include Maria Callas in a 1958 performance of La traviata from the Royal Opera House (though the performance has been previously available, this release has been remastered from a new sound source), as well as performances by Otto Klemperer, Evgeny Svetlanov, Kurt Sanderling, William Steinberg, Arthur Rubinstein, Emil Gilels and George Cziffra. ICA Classics will be distributed worldwide by Naxos.
With many of the agency’s artists appearing regularly on existing labels, it will be interesting to see how many of the most high profile will appear on the in-house label. Of the two new recordings from Wit and Haenchen, Wright said: “These are the kind of audio-visual projects that the major labels would not be in a position to undertake”.
Certainly, being able to offer new clients a recording outlet won’t hurt the agency in any race to sign promising new musicians – and, for that matter, the profile of the musicians it already represents.