Naxos 15th Anniversary News
NAXOS 15TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
Major new releases and special events
to cap another banner year for the
world's leading classical music label
New York, June 24, 2002 - With a string of critically acclaimed recordings under its belt and stronger than expected worldwide sales for the first half of 2002, Naxos looks ahead to the second half of its 15th anniversary season with great expectations.
Commenting on this year's successes, Naxos's founder Klaus Heymann observes: "We've had our best year ever in America, but there's also good news from virtually all of our key markets. In Japan, for example, our collection of Japanese Orchestral Favourites has been a No. 1 bestseller, a very promising development as we further explore this fascinating area of repertoire. Encouragingly, the American Classics series is not only a tremendous success in the States, but is finding audiences and critical support in markets around the world. I'm also encouraged by the growing success of our DVD business. We are now distributing TDK DVDs, as well as Arthaus and BBC/Opus Arte DVDs, making Naxos the market leader in this expanding field."
Naxos's dominance of the classical music market around the world continues to be fuelled by its unique mix of attractive and increasingly acclaimed programming and performances and its consumer-friendly price. Gramophone magazine observes: "Naxos has combined imaginative A&R with its philosophy of offering great music at affordable prices. Which all makes for a winning combination - classical music enthusiasts can't really go wrong!"
"Naxos has become without doubt the world's favourite classical label," adds BBC Music magazine. "In the history of the gramophone, no company has more thoroughly overturned the classical record business."
A Strong First Half
Critical acclaim for recent Naxos new releases has been extensive. In the first six months of 2002 alone, Naxos has received seven "Editor's Choice" selections from Gramophone across a broad spectrum of familiar and neglected repertoire, including music by Samuel Barber (the Violin Concerto and other orchestral works conducted by Marin Alsop), Arnold Bax (String Quartets with the Maggini Quartet and Symphonies with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by David Lloyd-Jones), Alban Berg (the landmark opera "Wozzeck"), Ferruccio Busoni (the "Turandot Suite" and other works), John Field (Volume 3 in a series of Piano Concertos performed by Benjamin Frith), and Sir William Walton (choral music from the Choir of St. John's College, Cambridge).
The American Classics series goes from strength to strength. The March release of String Quartets by the innovative composer Gloria Coates has been a major discovery for listeners unfamiliar with her music. "The sensuous, ultra-hip music of Gloria Coates might appeal more to the electronica club crowd than to classical traditionalists," wrote the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The album's colourfully seductive originality invited an extraordinary comparison from Classicstoday.com, which gave it a "10/10" for artistic quality and sound: "At long last, the aural equivalent to Salvador Dali's melted watches!" Writing about the American Classicsseries, The New York Times enthused: "It's all happening on Naxos, the voracious budget label that dispatches repertory by the trunkload."
Naxos has not only made an invaluable contribution in bringing important but still unknown music to curious listeners, but it has also presented world-class performances of some of the warhorses of the orchestral repertoire. BBC Music called David Lloyd-Jones's recording of Holst's "The Planets," "the most impressive performance of 'The Planets' I've heard for quite a while." True to Naxos form, the disc also featured composer Colin Matthews's recent "appendix" to the ever-popular suite, "Pluto," as well as what BBC Music called "perhaps the finest of Holst's long-neglected early works: 'The Mystic Trumpeter'." "Naxos earns the thanks of all Holst fans for reviving this neglected work in such an impressive performance," was Classicstoday.com's enthusiastic endorsement of this disc-mate of distinction.
Looking Ahead: New Releases on Compact Disc and DVD-Audio
Naxos's 15th anniversary season will feature a bountiful variety of repertoire and great music-making this summer and fall, with compelling new releases across a number of genres and formats.
The American ClassicsSeries
With more than 75 titles already available, and rising critical and popular enthusiasm, Naxos's American Classics series will expand by no less than 20 new titles this fall. Highlights will include music by both familiar and unjustly neglected American masters, beginning in July with the release of music by George Chadwick (1854-1931), a pioneer of the "Second New England School" and one of the most influential teachers in American music (Kenneth Schermerhorn conducts the Nashville Symphony Orchestra), as well as a survey of Aaron Copland's works for violin and piano (Zazovsky, Posnak).
Two American Classicstitles are slated for August. The first is devoted to another New England pioneer, Frederick Shepherd Converse (1871-1940), composer of the first American opera to be staged at New York's Metropolitan Opera. The collection of orchestral works will include perhaps his best-known composition, "The Mystic Trumpeter," which - like Holst's - is based on poetry by Walt Whitman (JoAnn Falletta conducts the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra).
Also in August, the music of Roy Harris (1898-1979) will make its debut in the Naxos catalogue with a recording of his Symphonies Nos. 7 and 9. A beloved figure in American music, the Oklahoma-born composer wrote a wide variety of orchestral and vocal music - including 14 symphonies - that melded rugged musical architecture with captivating hymn-inspired melodies. (Theodore Kuchar conducts the Ukrainian State Symphony Orchestra).
Rounding out the fall American Classicsreleases are discs devoted to the music of Ferde Grofé ("Death Valley Suite", September) and George Rochberg (orchestral works, September); Volume 4 of Marin Alsop's acclaimed survey of orchestral works by Samuel Barber (including the Piano Concerto, October); Leonard Bernstein's "West Side Story" with Kenneth Schermerhorn conducting the Nashville Symphony (October); and the Chestnut Brass Company performing irresistible and unusual arrangements of songs by Irving Berlin (September) and Stephen Foster (November).
Naxos Rules Britannia
Naxos will expand its already impressive catalogue of British music with several important new releases. For the centenary celebration of Sir William Walton (1902-1983), Naxos will release a rare disc of the composer's ballet music including "The Quest" (July). Gramophone hails the release, featuring the English Northern Philharmonia conducted by David Lloyd-Jones, as "another outstanding disc in the Naxos Walton series." Following releases dedicated to the music of Walton, Moeran, Britten, Elgar, Bridge and Vaughan Williams, the Gramophone Award-winning Maggini Quartet will begin a survey of the chamber music of Arthur Bliss (August). Later this fall, St. John's Choir, Cambridge will be featured on a CD dedicated to the music of Gerald Finzi (November).
Further Excursions: Symphonies, Piano Works, Chamber Music, Opera
Other new release highlights from Naxos for summer and fall 2002 include thrilling new performances of the standard repertoire as well as numerous excursions into rare and new works.
In July, Naxos will release Tchaikovsky's Fourth Symphony and "Romeo and Juliet" overture. The recording features Marin Alsop conducting the Colorado Symphony Orchestra, the first release in an ambitious initiative to record some of the great orchestral masterpieces with America's most enterprising and exciting symphony orchestras.
Solo piano offerings from Naxos will include Volume 4 in the label's Messiaen cycle (October) and Volume 3 in their ongoing Prokofiev sonatas cycle (November). A rich offering of chamber music will include the continuation of a critically acclaimed cycle of string quartets by Bohuslav Martinu (October), and piano quartets by Shostakovich and Schnittke, featuring Boris Berman and the Vermeer Quartet (October).
To this enticing list Naxos will add world-premiere recordings of operas by the Barcelona-born composer Leonardo Balada (b.1933) to its nascent 21st Century Classics series. Balada is credited with pioneering a blend of ethnic music and avant-garde techniques to create a remarkable personal style. Naxos will release a double-bill of the composer's "Hangman, Hangman" and "The Town of Greed" in performances by the Carnegie Mellon Opera and Contemporary Ensemble and the Pittsburgh Camerata in September.
Further Excursions II: Historical, World and AudioBooks
Naxos is also a leader in issuing important historical recordings, and the second half of 2002 will feature a number of key releases through its Historical, Jazz Legends and Nostalgia label. Reviewing these landmark restorations of legendary classical, jazz and popular music performances from the first half of the 20th century, the Philadelphia Inquirer observed: "Music lovers now need invest only $5 to $7 to hear extravagant musical personalities whom they've only read about."
Adding further to Naxos's already vast span of repertoire the label has recently introduced Naxos World, which presents an eclectic menu of both traditional and contemporary world music from around the globe. Highlights of upcoming releases include a definitive collection of Bluegrass music, featuring some of the top session players in the field, a fascinating collection of South African Choral Music, and music by Russian songwriter Boris Grebenshikov (previewed recently in Billboard magazine).
Naxos will also offer new titles in its acclaimed AudioBooks label. Available on both CD and cassette, this increasingly popular label features more than 200 titles of fiction, non-fiction, poetry and drama from the dawn of Western literature to the present day. All titles are presented in the distinctive Naxos AudioBooks style, digitally recorded, with outstanding performances by actors accustomed to the medium and enhanced by classical music.
New DVD-Audio Releases
Naxos released its first DVD-audio recording in September 2001 with the first surround sound version of Vivaldi's "The Four Seasons," which features, like all Naxos DVD-audio releases, true full-resolution surround sound. Unlike some other labels that use techniques to give old stereo recordings artificial surround sound effects, Naxos has been making original surround sound recordings for some time now. "We started recording in true surround five years ago, well before anybody else, because I believed in the technology," observes Klaus Heymann. Besides true surround sound, all Naxos DVD-audio releases feature Dolby AC3 and DTS layers - making them fully compatible with existing DVD/video players - and special features including menu access to program and biographical information. Naxos has taken the lead in this important new technology, aimed to recreate the most natural-sounding concert hall experience, by pricing their DVD-audio releases at a suggested retail price of $14.99 (less than the price for most new release compact discs and well below the industry standard of $20 for DVD-audio).
Forthcoming DVD-audio releases from Naxos include several award-winning and critically acclaimed performances. David Lloyd Jones's celebrated recording of Holst's "The Planets" will be a natural to showcase the unparalleled sonic capabilities of DVD-audio (August). In September, Naxos will release the DVD-audio version of one of the most acclaimed CD releases of 2000: Anthony Payne's reconstruction and completion of the sketches for Sir Edward Elgar's Third Symphony. According to Fanfare magazine, "Paul Daniel's traversal of Payne's reconstruction with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra is an engrossing, visionary addition to the Elgar discography, with excellent liner notes to complement the stunning performance." Next comes a DVD-audio release of an all-Shostakovich album, with Dmitry Yablonsky conducting the Russian State Symphony Orchestra, featuring colorful, sometimes racy fare, including the "Jazz Suites 1 & 2" (October). "Is this another winner from Naxos?" asks a reviewer in the July issue of Gramophone. "I think so. ...Try the Weill-like "Foxtrot" (track 19) and I dare say you'll be hooked." Finally, hot on the heels of the release of its compact disc counterpart, Naxos will add an American Classicsseries release to its DVD-audio offerings: Grofé's "Death Valley Suite" featuring William Stromberg conducting the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra.
Special Naxos 15th Anniversary Events
In just 15 years the Naxos label has evolved from pioneering upstart into the world's number one classical music label. In celebration of these extraordinary 15 years of achievement and discovery, Naxos will host a series of industry and media events in September and October, including parties and showcases with Naxos founder Klaus Heymann and special Naxos guest artists in Nashville (September 24), Toronto (September 30), Montreal (October 2) and Los Angeles (October 4). On Thursday, September 26, Marin Alsop will join Mr. Heymann and other Naxos artists in New York for a 15th anniversary event at New York's historic Steinway Hall.
Focusing always on opportunities that will define the future of recorded classical music - indeed of all recorded music, Klaus Heymann allows himself a moment to reflect on past achievements. "When I started the Naxos label 15 years ago my ambition was to make classical recordings available on CD at a price comparable to that of LPs. Not in my wildest dreams did I expect my humble creation to become the world's leading classical label in just 15 years. Now I am amazed to see how Naxos has revolutionized the record business to become the best-selling classical label in the world!"
Glenn Petry, 21C Media Group, Inc.
Rebecca Davis, Naxos of America, Inc.
(615) 771-9393, ext. 29
For fifteen years, Naxos has built its success on a combination of quality and affordability. As we venture into new products and technology our commitment to engaging music and customer satisfaction remains as strong as ever. While we look to the future, we invite you to review some excerpts of past critical acclaim.
Celebrating 15 Years of Excellence
15 superlative quotes for 15 outstanding years
1. "Naxos has become without doubt the world's favourite classical label. ...In the history of the gramophone, no company has more thoroughly overturned the classical record business. ...It has built its reputation on value and reliability."
-- BBC Music
2. "Naxos has combined imaginative A&R with its philosophy of offering great music at affordable prices. Which all makes for a winning combination - classical music enthusiasts can't really go wrong!"
3. "It's all happening on Naxos, the voracious budget label that dispatches repertory by the trunkload."
-- The New York Times
4. "The most significant record industry development of the nineties [was] the landslide success of the budget-priced Naxos label."
-- BBC Music
5. "Why pay £15 for a classical CD when you can get a better one for a third of the cost from the budget label Naxos?"
-- The Guardian
6. "The economy may be down, but thanks to the pioneering, wallet-friendly Naxos label, for those interested in exploring the vast wealth of American music these are bounteous times indeed."
-- Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, FL)
7. "Music lovers now need invest only $5 to $7 to hear extravagant musical personalities whom they've only read about."
-- The Philadelphia Inquirer
8. "As the crew of the HMS Pinafore might have shouted, let's hear three cheers and one cheer more for Naxos, the label primarily responsible these days for releasing historic operatic recordings at a bargain price."
-- The Toronto Star
9. "The great salvation for classical recording continues to lie with the smaller independent labels. ...Enterprising indies such as Naxos continue to put out records that justify themselves artistically."
-- Chicago Tribune
10. "Naxos continues to boast the most impressive - some might say overwhelming - release schedule of any recording company. ...Soundscan rates [Naxos] as the country's No. 1 independent classical distributor and label."
11. "I have a shopping basket full of Naxos recordings to recommend for this "Records to Die for" issue. Two recommendations? Nah. How about 24!"
12. "Naxos, with some fine recordings at amazingly low prices, ate the major [label's] collective lunch and reportedly still makes buckets of money. The classical music recording industry is not dead or even comatose, it's evolving."
-- St. Louis Post-Dispatch
13. "Naxos Nostalgia, Naxos Jazz Legends, Naxos AudioBooks and Naxos World testify to the continuing vibrance of one of the great success stories of the CD era."
-- BBC Music
14. "The Internet also is a boon to the feisty independent classical labels that have started up as the conglomerates have retrenched. If you're worried that the genre is dying, check out the online catalogs of such outfits such as...Naxos."
-- Business Week on-line
15. "Naxos is simply the most exciting thing happening in classical music today."
Bonus Naxos artist quote:
"I've never been one for the strictly establishment route anyway. The maverick quality of Naxos appealed to me."
-- Conductor Marin Alsop on signing with the Naxos label