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In 2017, Naxos Records celebrates its 30th anniversary. Founded in 1987 by Klaus Heymann, the label now boasts a catalogue of over 9,000 albums spanning every genre of classical music. This limited edition anniversary boxed set comprises thirty CDs spanning the wide range of the label’s repertoire. Featuring releases from 1987 to 2016 and a host of stellar artists, every one of these discs has received critical acclaim and has contributed towards the huge success of Naxos: the world’s largest independent classical record label.
Naxos was launched in 1987 as a budget classical CD label, offering CDs at the price of an LP when CDs cost about three times more than LPs. The focus was on recording the standard classical repertoire in state-of-the-art digital sound with outstanding, if unknown, artists and orchestras, initially mainly from Slovakia and Hungary. The parent company’s existing rarity label, Marco Polo had been producing recordings in these two countries since 1982. Having recorded the most popular classical works, Naxos started to tackle complete cycles, beginning with the complete Haydn string quartets performed by the Kodály Quartet. This cycle was the first to bring the fledgling budget label international critical acclaim.
Once the label had established a reputation for sonic and artistic excellence it attracted interest from orchestras and artists in Western Europe and elsewhere.
Recording the complete works by all the most important composers became one of the missions of Naxos. From the beginning, the label established close relations with artists willing to commit to the Naxos mission. These became Naxos house artists, starting with Jenő Jandó, the prolific Hungarian pianist who made the first Naxos recording in 1986 and continues to record to this day. Others include the violinists Takako Nishizaki, Ilya Kaler, Henning Kraggerud and Tianwa Yang; the cellist Maria Kliegel; the guitarist Norbert Kraft; the pianist Idil Biret; and others. Naxos also established close relationships with many conductors and their orchestras – Antoni Wit with the Polish National Radio Symphony and the Warsaw Philharmonic; Marin Alsop with the Royal Scottish National, the Bournemouth Symphony, the Baltimore Symphony and the São Paulo State Symphony Orchestra; Helmut Müller-Brühl and his Cologne Chamber Orchestra; Leonard Slatkin with his Detroit Symphony and Lyon National Orchestra; Jun Märkl with the MDR Symphony and the Lyon National Orchestra; James Judd and the New Zealand Symphony; JoAnn Falletta and the Buffalo Philharmonic; our American hometown orchestra, the Nashville Symphony with Kenneth Schermerhorn and Giancarlo Guerrero; Kevin Mallon and his Aradia Ensemble; Gerard Schwarz and his Seattle Symphony; and many others.
Today, Naxos has a catalogue of over 9,000 titles and releases about 200 new titles per year, covering a wide range of often unique repertoire, recorded in more than 30 countries. The humble budget label has morphed into one of the most respected classical labels, regardless of price.
Parallel to the growth of the label, Naxos built a worldwide distribution and marketing infrastructure for its own and most other Independent classical labels. Naxos is also the industry leader in the digital presentation of classical music. In 1996, it made the complete catalogues of Naxos and Marco Polo available for streaming. In 2002, the company launched Naxos Music Library, the industry’s first subscription streaming platform.
This 30th anniversary box offers a representative selection of landmark recordings from the label’s history but is also a tribute to the artists and orchestras with whom the label is identified and who are identified with the label.