Warner Classics has signed a multi-year agreement with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra and its Chief Conductor Lahav Shani. Inaugurating the agreement on November 27th is the release of an all-Beethoven album, recorded in October 2019 and comprising the Piano Concerto No 4, which Shani directs from the keyboard, and the Symphony No 7.

Lahav Shani, now aged 31, assumed his post with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra in its centenary year, succeeding Yannick Nézet-Séguin at the beginning of the 2018/19 season. In March 2020 he and the orchestra extended his contract as Chief Conductor to August 2026. His first appearance with the orchestra took place in June 2016, an event characterised, in the words of the leading newspaper NRC Handelsblad, by “instant chemistry”. Beyond their collaboration in Rotterdam itself, Shani and orchestra have toured together in Europe, China and Taiwan. A US tour planned for Spring 2020 had to be cancelled as a consequence of COVID-19.

In October 2019, when Shani and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra visited Baden-Baden in Germany to perform the two works on the new Beethoven album, Bachtrack wrote: “If everything in Beethoven’s anniversary year sounds as fresh and inspired as the interpretations we heard from Lahav Shani and his orchestra, then there will be no cause for boredom in the world’s concert halls.”

Lahav Shani explains that “I felt an immediate and unique connection with the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra from the very first time we met. Since then, a very special musical relationship has developed between us, and I am delighted, as their Chief Conductor, to be able to share our music-making with a wider international audience through our recordings. At a time when international touring is impossible it seems particularly important to do this, and I am very excited about this new multi-year relationship with Warner Classics.”

Born in Tel Aviv, Shani trained in Israel and in Berlin, where his mentors included Daniel Barenboim. The start of the 2020/21 season brings his accession to the post of Music Director of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra, following Zubin Mehta’s retirement after 50 years with the orchestra. Shani, who has also been Principal Guest Conductor of the Vienna Symphony Orchestra since 2017, appears regularly with the Staatskapelle Berlin and has received invitations for guest engagements with the Vienna Philharmonic, Gewandhausorchester, Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Berliner Philharmoniker, London Symphony Orchestra, Boston Symphony Orchestra, Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, Philadelphia Orchestra, Budapest Festival Orchestra, Orchestre de Paris and Philharmonia Orchestra.

Speaking for the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, its Managing Director George Wiegel comments that: “The Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra has built up a large fan base worldwide in recent decades, partly thanks to countless acclaimed record and CD releases. It is of great significance to us that we are now partnering with Warner Classics, which already has many of our orchestra’s recordings in its catalogue. Together with our chief conductor, Lahav Shani, we are now going to add a wonderful new chapter to this, in addition to our recordings with James Conlon and Yannick Nézet-Séguin.”

Alain Lanceron, President Warner Classics & Erato, says that: “It means an enormous amount to Warner Classics to establish this new agreement with Lahav Shani and the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. Not only does it refresh and reinforce the label’s long-standing collaboration with the orchestra, already the source of outstanding recordings under its previous music directors James Conlon and Yannick Nézet-Séguin, it marks the beginning of an exclusive relationship with one of today’s most charismatic young conductors. What better way to bring Beethoven’s 250th anniversary year to a celebratory end than with the release of an album imbued with Lahav Shani’s extraordinary talents, both on the podium and at the piano? We look forward to many more.”