Our friends at Cedille Records, the Grammy Award-winning, Chicago-based classical record label, are about to embark on their 20th year. Launched two decades ago in a student apartment on Chicago’s South Side by James Ginsburg, then 24, son of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, who is a pretty prominent lawyer in Washington, DC, Cedille (that’s say-DEE to you) made its debut in November 1989 with its first CD release, a program of solo piano pieces performed by Chicago-based Soviet emigre pianist Dmitry Paperno.
Since then, Cedille’s catalog, which features world-class musicians in and from the Chicago area, has grown and diversified, while attracting critical accolades, an international clientele, and praise from its artists. Cedille has 115 principal CD titles ranging from solo keyboard works to complete symphonies and operas. These include world-premiere recordings and CD premieres of important compositions, plus the commercial recording debuts of some celebrated artists.
Among the label’s major contributions to the world’s CD catalog are its recordings of Gian Carlo Menotti’s opera “The Medium” (the only available recording of the work at the time of its release) and world-premiere recording of Robert Kurka’s opera “The Good Soldier Schweik,” both with Chicago Opera Theater; the world premiere recording of Easley Blackwood’s Fifth Symphony with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra conducted by James DePreist, paired with his First Symphony performed by the Boston Symphony Orchestra conducted by Charles Munch (originally released on RCA Records); the world-premiere recording of Franz Clement’s 1805 Violin Concerto, paired with Beethoven’s concerto, with violinist Pine and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by José Serebrier; two discs of orchestral music by Chicago composer Leo Sowerby (1895-1968), with Paul Freeman leading the Czech National Symphony Orchestra and Chicago Sinfonietta; the three-disc African Heritage Symphonic Series of orchestral works by black composers, with maestro Freeman and the Chicago Sinfonietta; the complete Mendelssohn string quartets with the Pacifica Quartet; a disc of David Diamond’s chamber music with the Chicago Chamber Musicians; and “Oppens Plays Carter,” the newest and only fully complete survey of Elliott Carter’s solo piano music, performed by Ursula Oppens, and just nominated for a Grammy Award.
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