The Philadelphia Orchestra (search), a pioneering force in recorded music, has landed its first recording contract since being dropped by EMI (search) in 1996.

The orchestra has signed a three-year agreement with the Finnish label Ondine (search) for three CDs a year, orchestra spokeswoman Katherine E. Blodgett told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

The first recording is set for release in the fall, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in Wednesday's editions.

With the agreement, the orchestra is alone among its peers in Boston, Chicago, Cleveland and New York in holding a major recording contract, according to the American Symphony Orchestra League (search), which assists nearly 1,000 U.S. member orchestras.

The musicians will not be paid a large upfront fee, but will share in profits when recordings sell well, and decisions on what to record and what recordings to release will be made jointly by Ondine, the musicians and the orchestra's music director, Christoph Eschenbach, the newspaper reported.

Joseph H. Kluger, orchestra president, said the musicians are the first to depart from a national American Federation of Musicians master agreement on compensation for recordings.

The contract recognizes changes occurring in the recording industry and doesn't promise a return to the days when recording royalties accounted for a quarter of the orchestra's annual income.

Recordings will be made live in concert rather than in studios.

The Philadelphia Orchestra made its first recording in 1917, and in 1931 became the first orchestra to make a long-playing recording.

In 1962, the orchestra received the first of three gold records, in recognition of sales over $1 million of "The Glorious Sounds of Christmas."

EMI cited high costs when it ended its relationship with the orchestra.