Craft Recordings Celebrates Classical Label Telarc International With Archival Campaign

The campaign kicks off with reissues of two landmark titles on June 9.

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Lang Lang: Rachmaninoff Piano Concertos - album artwork courtesy of Craft Recordings

Craft Recordings is celebrating venerable record label Telarc International Corporation with a years-long archival campaign that is surfacing iconic recordings of legendary conductors and theatrical works.

Founded in 1977, the Telarc International Corporation was founded in Cleveland, OH, with one singular goal: to bring classical music fans the highest-quality listening experience. Marrying cutting-edge technology with the greatest orchestras and conductors in the world, the pioneering label was among the first to embrace digital recording technology—and it quickly became a leader in the industry.

Under Craft Recordings stewardship, over 500 Telarc titles featuring the world’s great conductors such as Andrè Previn, Sir Charles Mackerras, Erich Kunzel, and iconic soloists like Seiji Ozawa, Itzhak Perlman, and Lang Lang performing works from the likes of Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Schubert, Beethoven, and many more are available today on digital platforms, plus two of the label’s most popular titles Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / Night on Bald Mountain performed by the Cleveland Orchestra and Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 / Scriabin: Etudes will be reissued on audiophile-quality vinyl this spring.

1979’s Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / Night on Bald Mountain, performed by the Cleveland Orchestra and conducted by the legendary Lorin Maazel, was among Telarc’s earliest and most celebrated albums. Now, this classic title will return to vinyl for the first time in more than 40 years.

The second reissue, from Telarc’s more recent history, features one of classical music’s brightest stars, Lang Lang. Originally released in 2002, Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 / Scriabin: Etudes marks the Chinese piano virtuoso’s debut orchestral recording. Now, for the very first time, fans can enjoy this broadly acclaimed album on vinyl.

Arriving June 9, both albums were mastered by Grammy-winning engineer Paul Blakemore, whose tenure with Telarc dates back to 2000. Lacquers were cut by Ryan Smith at Sterling Sound and pressed on 180-gram vinyl at Germany’s Optimal Media.

One of the first titles to establish “the Telarc Sound” was 1979’s Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition / Night on Bald Mountain, performed by the world-renowned Cleveland Orchestra and led by the highly regarded American conductor Lorin Maazel (1930–2014), who served as musical director from 1972 to 1982.

This recording, captured at Cleveland’s Masonic Auditorium in 1978, features two popular selections by Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky (1839–1881). Side A opens with the dramatic symphonic poem, “Night on Bald Mountain,” which paints an eerie picture of a gathering of witches. Arranged five years after Mussorgsky’s death by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov, the composition premiered in St. Petersburg in 1886. While the piece was quite popular in its day, “Night on Bald Mountain” found even greater recognition after its use in Disney’s 1940 animated feature Fantasia.

The LP also includes Mussorgsky’s best-known work, Pictures at an Exhibition. Dedicated to the composer’s late friend—painter and architect Viktor Hartmann—the vivid suite was inspired by a posthumous exhibit of the artist’s work. In 10 movements, Mussorgsky takes listeners through the gallery, as they admire 10 works of art by Hartmann. Recurring “Promenade” themes, meanwhile, recreate the moments in between, as one strolls the gallery’s halls.

This album, which marked the first digital recording of Night on Bald Mountain and Pictures at an Exhibition, left critics and fans in awe and cemented Telarc’s status as the preeminent classical audiophile recording label. Upon its release, Stereophile hailed it as “Unquestionably the best recording Telarc has done to date.”

In the mid to late ’90s, teenage pianist Lang Lang emerged as one of the era’s most exciting young talents. Pairing deft technical abilities and emotive performances with the flash of a pop star, the Chinese musician appealed to a new generation of classical music fans. At 19 years old, the pianist partnered with Telarc for his highly anticipated debut orchestral recording, captured primarily at London’s Royal Albert Hall during the 2001 BBC Proms.

Joined by the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, led by conductor and artistic director Yuri Temirkanov, Lang Lang delivers an awe-inspiring performance, as he tackles one of the most technically challenging compositions for the piano, Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor by Russian composer Sergei Rachmaninoff (1873–1943).

Structured in three movements, the 1909 concerto gained international popularity in the 1930s, thanks to pianist Vladimir Horowitz. As an encore, Lang Lang pays tribute to his home country, with a rendition of the traditional Chinese folk song “Liu Yang River.” His appearance that evening was praised by The Times as “history in the making,” while The Guardian noted “the extraordinary energy of his playing, the ability to shape every paragraph with total certainty, the unswerving focus.”

The album also highlights Lang Lang’s work in a solo setting, as he performs Etudes by Alexander Scriabin (1872–1915). Written between 1894 and 1912, the 10 études reflect the Russian composer’s evolving style. Before 1903, Scriabin’s work was relatively tonal, reflecting a late Romantic style. However, as demonstrated in this collection, Scriabin shifted to a more dissonant style that transcended traditional tonality.

Available on vinyl for the very first time, Rachmaninoff: Piano Concerto No. 3 in D Minor, Op. 30 / Scriabin: Etudes is presented as a 2-LP set and housed in a gatefold jacket.

Pre-order Mussorgsky: Pictures At An Exhibition and Rachmaninoff: Piano Concertos.

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