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Gustavo conducting the orchestra with both arms raised

Internationally celebrated label Harmonia Mundi announces multi-disc TSO partnership.

November 7, 2023

The Toronto Symphony Orchestra (TSO), and renowned independent record label Harmonia Mundi, are thrilled to announce a long-term recording partnership. This agreement represents the European label’s first major project with a North American orchestra and begins with the release of Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie on February 2, 2024—building on the TSO’s expansive and award-winning discography. The two subsequent recordings that will be released through this partnership will feature Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella (along with a work by Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy) and Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin (along with a work by Canadian composer Emilie LeBel), to be recorded this season and next, respectively.

Captured at Roy Thomson Hall during the TSO’s 100th-anniversary season, Turangalîla-Symphonie pays tribute to the orchestra’s iconic, GRAMMY®-nominated 1968 RCA recording of the same piece under its legendary former artistic leader, Seiji Ozawa. It will also be the subject of Gustavo Gimeno’s inaugural recording as TSO Music Director. The recording will likewise feature soloists Marc-Andre Hamelin (piano) and Nathalie Forget (ondes Martenot).

“I deeply enjoy my long-standing relationship with Harmonia Mundi, and am very inspired by this opportunity to bring that relationship to Toronto,” said Gustavo Gimeno. “So when I was asked to select a work from the entirety of the repertoire, for my first recording with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, my decision was immediate. Not only is Olivier Messiaen’s Turangalîla-Symphonie historically significant to the TSO — as TSO Music Director Seiji Ozawa recorded it with the orchestra in 1968 — but it also embodies the sense of forward-looking intrepidity that characterizes both the orchestra and the label. This new artistic alliance is wonderfully apt, and I am thrilled to be a part of it.”

That recording remains iconic, and partially responsible for putting the TSO on the musical map of global record labels. The soloists were sisters Jeanne Loriod (ondes Martenot) and Yvonne Loriod (piano), who was Messiaen’s second wife. And the composer thought very highly of Ozawa, calling him (in a book-length interview with French music critic Claude Samuel) “the greatest conductor I have known.”

Recordings have been an integral component of the TSO’s artistic legacy since the orchestra’s first release in 1942. Of the close to 100 titles in its discography, many have been nominated for prestigious awards. Most recently, the 2018 recording of works by Vaughan Williams, under TSO Conductor Emeritus Peter Oundjian, and the 2021 recording of Massenet’s Thaïs, under TSO Conductor Laureate Sir Andrew Davis, both under Chandos Records, won JUNO Awards, with the former also receiving a GRAMMY® nomination.  

“The Toronto Symphony Orchestra is very excited to be the first North American orchestra to partner with Harmonia Mundi. The inaugural recording of this partnership — the Turangalîla-Symphonie, among the greatest compositions of the 20th century — reflects the ebullient energy of today’s Toronto Symphony under the exceptional musical leadership of Gustavo Gimeno while paying homage to our storied history,” said Beck Family CEO, Mark Williams. 

The two subsequent releases with Harmonia Mundi will be Stravinsky’s ballet Pulcinella (featuring Canadian composer Kelly-Marie Murphy) and Bartók’s The Miraculous Mandarin, to be recorded this season and next, respectively. These recordings are a testament to Music Director Gustavo Gimeno’s signature combination of new and old works for dynamic programming.

Read more about the partnership

Turangalîla-Symphonie recording launches February 2, 2024. Watch the trailer here.