Named Label of the Year by the prestigious Gramophone magazine in 2018, harmonia mundi had been founded in 1958. Becoming an integral part of the [PIAS] group in October 2015, the label also experienced a veritable rebirth thanks in part to its move into the centre of the ancient Roman city of Arles, in perfect editorial and artistic continuity with its lifelong ambition: the pursuit of excellence. This desire has sustained our dedication since the earliest days of harmonia mundi, when our founder Bernard Coutaz set out to discover and document the sound of Europe’s historic pipe organs... The outcome of the story is no secret, including the “acquisition” of Alfred Deller one beautiful evening in July of 1970, the role harmonia mundi played in the musical revolution fuelled by historically informed performance practice, and its model expansion on a global scale. To this attests the remarkable success enjoyed by the label’s leading artists throughout the 1980s, ’90s, and 2000s: among them, René Jacobs, Philippe Herreweghe, Anonymous 4, Isabelle Faust, Jean-Guihen Queyras, Andreas Staier, Alexander Melnikov, Matthias Goerne, Stile Antico, Paul Lewis, Andreas Scholl, and Alexandre Tharaud.
The pace of such artistic development has accelerated over the past decade. In the space of seven years, some two dozen new ensembles, conductors, and soloists have joined the label, among them Sébastien Daucé (Ensemble Correspondances); François-Xavier Roth and Les Siècles; Raphael Pichon (Ensemble Pygmalion); Kristian Bezuidenhout (fortepiano, harpsichord, modern piano); Antoine Tamestit (viola); Pablo Heras-Casado (initiating the “Die Neue Romantik” series); Amandine Beyer (Gli Incogniti and the Kitgut Quartet); Hamburg’s Ensemble Resonanz; Les Cris de Paris; Bertrand Cuiller (harpsichord); the Boston Camerata; ORA Singers; Benjamin Alard (organ, harpsichord, clavichord); pianists Nikolai Lugansky, Vadym Kholodenko, Adam Laloum, and Julien Libeer (as of 2020); as well as vocalists including Stephanie d’Oustrac, Lucile Richardot, Sophie Karthäuser, Stéphane Degout, and Marc Mauillon. In 2016, harmonia mundi and William Christie celebrated the momentous return of Les Arts Florissants to the label, to launch a joint-publication initiative; the ensemble turned 40 in 2019! The 2018/19 and 2019/20 seasons also saw the resumption of the label’s collaboration with Marcel Pérès and his Ensemble Organum and the strengthening of its partnership with the Philharmonie de Paris (continuing the Stradivari collection initiated by the Museum of Music and undertaking new projects with the Orchestre de Paris).
Since 2017, a good dozen of young performers (vocalists, instrumentalists, and ensembles from around the world) have been showcased thanks to the recently launched harmonia nova series, a particularly promising incubator for young talent which in February 2018 has already yielded a Victoire de la Musique Award for the cellist Bruno Philippe. New adventures are on the horizon; far from grieving over the effects of the digital revolution, harmonia mundi is fully committed to harnessing the benefits that its advent can offer (starting with an approach to sound recording that is anything but rigid), without neglecting the appeal of a beautifully produced physical object. The confidence that drives each musician in the harmonia mundi family of artists can be experienced on five continents, buoyed by the strength and diversity of a repertoire that undergoes constant renewal.
In 2020 as in 1958, music will again bring us together!