Anyone who has any interest in classical music should buy this book. It has some interesting revelations about the way the music businnes is run nowdays. I'm surprised that after a few months in the market, 'The Story of Naxos' has only two reviews in Amazon!, one being from the maverick conductor known as Adriano, who gained recognition through the Naxos label, with a none to flattering reference to Klaus Heymann (Naxos owner and CEO)as Citizen Kane in his quest for power...and probably I should think,.. world domination.
No secret that major recording companies shot themselves in the foot through unimaginative repertoire, stupid mergers that robbed them of their personality and total dependence on bottomliners and marketeers who took over from artistic directors and independent producers. What Naxos as a budget label has done for classical music in the last 30 plus years is astonishing and the quality of their projects has improved dramatically. In the process, Heymann has discovered to the world a series of marvelous musicians (too many to mention here)that stood no chance whatsoever to record for the major companies, happy in their closed star system. For sure, as a record collector (and I have tons of Naxos and Marco Polo records) I'm not too interested in a great part of their catalogue and many recordings do not stand the test of time, but still are very valuable as a documentary of some fine and undeservedly forgotten music. What have we to gain by having all the 34 plus symphonies by Myaskovsky?, I think that hearing the two or three that really deserve some attention is just fine, and half the American Classics collection is of no consecuence in the vast canvas of musical thought. Maybe there's too much expense that could find better direction and Heymann is going to have to observe some strict controls in the future.
The author Nicolas Soames, well known for his musical essays and a close insider of Naxos, writes a book that mingles some interesting facts with overtly repetitious odes to Heymann, and at times, the self congratulatory tone of their 'success story' is just to much to bear.
Heymann's contention that there is probably only a million classical music collectors all over the world that buy an average of 10 CD's a year is a sad assesment of today's downturn in culture and education if compared to the 60 million or more that buy just one pop hit record in the same time frame, do the math. Also, the idea that every single piece of music ever written can be recorded is absurd and clearly impossible, just check the IMSLP Petrucci library. Finally, for such a big recording company, their system of finding 'projects' and artists seems quite provincial (recommendations by friends). I can think of quite a few real masterpieces of composers that have for years eluded their radar. Have they even heard of Bruno Maderna, Jacques Casterede, Marius Constant, Serge Nigg? and that's just one italian and three frenchmen.
Stay tuned, Naxos seems here to stay for some time before their own swan song hits the waves.