Berlin Philharmonic to release 100-year-old recording as digital single

The Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra is to celebrate the centenary of its relationship with the Deutsche Grammophon label by releasing an epic 50CD set called The Centenary Edition.

Arthur Nikisch berlin philharmonic

Chief among the recordings is the reissuing of a 100-year-old shellac recording as a new digital single, thought to be the oldest recording ever released as a new single. The recording is of Arthur Nikisch (pictured) conducting the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony in 1913.

DG label president Mark Wilkinson commented: "This remarkable single is, quite simply, six minutes of classical music history. We are hearing, with fresh ears, music captured by DG engineers when Wilhelm II was German Emperor, King George V ruled the British Empire, Stravinsky was premiering The Rite of Spring in Paris, and Charlie Chaplin was just beginning his film career."

The rest of the 50CD set is made up of landmark recordings from the Berlin Philharmonic, as voted for by the public. With nearly 40,000 votes cast, the resulting track list includes Herbert Von Karajan, Sir Simon Rattle, Claudio Abbado and Gustavo Dudamel among others.

Principle cellist Olaf Maninger commented: "For us as members of the orchestra, it is a source of tremendous pleasure that these recordings keep our history alive, and allow our audiences to keep on experiencing great musical moments from the past."

The one with most votes, though, was Leonard Bernstein's sole recording with the orchestra, of Mahler's 9th Symphony. The collection will be released at the beginning of the Berlin Philharmonic's new season in October.

You can hear the 100-year-old Nikisch recording at the DG site here.