The debut release on the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra’s new record label brings together Chief Conductor Jaime Martín, superstar soprano and MSO 2023 Artist in Residence Siobhan Stagg and the full might of the MSO to perform music from Strauss and Debussy that explores life, love and approaching death.

Debussy & Strauss is the first release of recordings stemming from a new production and distribution partnership, signed in December 2022, between the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (MSO) and the London Symphony Orchestra (LSO).

Chief Conductor Jaime Martín praises the new release. “The Strauss and Debussy concerts with the incredible Siobhan Stagg were among my personal highlights of 2023,” says Martín. “Our partnership with the LSO means that the first recording on our new label will receive international distribution and promotion, allowing the MSO to share this wonderful music with the largest possible audience.”

Mildura-born soprano and darling of the international stage Siobhan Stagg performed Strauss’ Vier letzte Lieder at the MSO 2023 Season Opening Gala. Posthumously titled Four Last Songs, Strauss’ sublime pieces farewell a world irrevocably altered by two world wars. Under Martín’s ‘sensitive accompaniment’ (The Age) Stagg imbues these complex works with nostalgia, naïveté, and astonishing sincerity. In this ‘truly magical experience’ (Australian Stage) Stagg brings ‘profound empathy and commanding elegance’ to Richard Strauss’ Four Last Songs (The Age). Classic Melbourne described Stagg’s stage presence as ‘mesmerising’, and her voice as ‘shining and luscious.’

Stagg said she was honoured to be part of the first release on the MSO’s new label. “To perform these beautiful song cycles live with the MSO in front of a Melbourne audience was a genuine pleasure,” Stagg says. “I’m thrilled that the release of these concert recordings will allow music lovers from around the world the opportunity to hear such wonderful music performed by the brilliant MSO with Maestro Martín.”

The second live recording features Stagg and the MSO performing a rarely heard 2015 arrangement by Australian composer Brett Dean of Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées (Forgotten Songs), which was premiered in March 2023. According to The Age ‘Siobhan Stagg transported the audience to the intensely sensual world of Debussy’s Ariettes oubliées, once again captivating listeners with ravishing tone, crystalline diction and winning charm’. Musically eclectic yet recognisably ‘French’, these songs demonstrate Debussy’s part in the development of an iconic French musical style, recognisable today in the likes of Amélie’s Yann Tiersen. Classic Melbourne applauded ‘Stagg’s remarkable ability to create a sense of the mysterious and otherworldliness.’

MSO Managing Director Sophie Galaise welcomes the new album release. “The release of our first recording on the MSO label heralds the beginning of a fruitful and fulsome partnership that will showcase our esteemed Chief Conductor Jaime Martín and Australia’s first and foremost symphony orchestra – the MSO,” Galaise said.