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Is Anyone Familiar with the NAXOS label?

post #1 of 27
Thread Starter 
I spend a lot of time in Barnes and Noble and Circuit City these days buying CDs, and I really want to start a classical music collection, but the large range of price and quality scares me somewhat. I keep seeing these Naxos Classical CDs for somewhere in the neighborhood of about $6 a piece.

Is anyone here famliar with them at all? I am going to be listening to them mostly on headphones (I don't think my frat brothers would appreciate my Carmina Burana drowning out their hip-hop...since I have the best stereo system in the house). Doesn't that mean that if the CDs are not recorded well, the headphones (soon to be HD600) will reveal the mistakes?

I know there are many other labels out there, but this seems really cheap, is it a bad idea, thanks.
post #2 of 27
I have several CDs by Naxos -- the ones that immediately come to mind are Liszt's Years of Pilgrimage (piano pieces) and a CD containing Saint-Saens' "Introduction and Rondo Capriccioso" and a violin concerto, with Dong-Suk Kang (I think that's the name) as violinist. I have all three "years," all performed by Jeno Jando; the performances are wonderful, and the recording quality is very good, I think.

The Saint-Saens CD, however, while in general well-recorded, has a certain problem I find very irritating: the very regular breaths of the violinist are not only audible, but rather loud. This gets in the way of the music. Although Intro/Rondo is one of my favorite pieces of classical music, I find it difficult to listen to this recording of it because of the annoying breathing.

In general, though, I think that Naxos is a great label with talented (if unknown) artists. The low price should make up for any irregular qualms that may come up with some of their CDs. I strongly recommend Naxos, but I would suggest that you try to have a listen to their CDs (or look online for reviews) before buying.
post #3 of 27
Thread Starter 
Thanks a lot DanG. Being a poor college student, I think the price is going to win out here on priorities while I build a classical CD collection, so I think I'll give them a try. I checked ou their website, and they have a lot of informative information on how to listen to a live performance and how to build a CD collection even, just what I was looking for.

Go to Naxos and check out the learning zone link on the left hand side.
post #4 of 27
While Naxos quality varies, they have some surprisingly good recordings. I think in one of last 2 or 3 Stereophiles, Sam Tellig (or some other cheap-skate) actually had a list of ones he recommended.

Also read the interview with the NAXOS founder here: http://www.stereophile.com/showarchives.cgi?254

I think there are also usually 1 or 2 NAXOS CDs in their music 2 die 4 section (check http://www.stereophile.com).

Cheap listening,

Legoman
post #5 of 27
I've bought a fistfull of their CDs. The sound quality is as LEAST as good as any other label. The only thing you sacrifice is familiarity with the names of performers. Naxos tends to record with not-yet-famous, but high-quality musicians...i.e., those willing to work cheap.

Personally, I think that's a Good Thing about the label, not a defect! I like to see the $$ get into the hands of young, new musicians. And, the Naxos management is trying to develop a stable, instead of overcharging us for overpriced Big Undeserving Names.....or even Overundeserving names....

Q: What's the difference between a musician and a medium pizza?
A: A medium pizza CAN feed two people...

Even more importantly, if possible, some particularly good Naxos CDs have the works of less familiar composers - and this is your chance to hear unfamiliar music as well as unfamiliar musicians. Try, for instance, the VERY well recorded, and very beautiful, piano concertos of Geirr Tveitt. Does that sound like a made-up name, or what...?

Somewhat more familiar composers, like Walter Piston, have world recording premieres represented on Naxos. His Violin Concertos are big-league music in every way, with big-league performances by big-league musicians.....even if these are rookies....

The major recording labels tend to guard their corporate bottom line against the marketing risks of recording new music. So, no "unfamiliar" Piston. So, no Geirr Tveitt. So, the 97th recording of the Mahler 1st symphony goes into the catalog...

Don't be shy about forking over your money to Naxos....really, these are the Good Guys! It's Sony/Polygram/Warner you don't want feeding their children on your hard-earned blood.
post #6 of 27
Naxos varies in quality, as they use a wide range of less-known soloists, conductors and orchestras - that's what is allowing them to keep the price down. I think I have an excellent performance of Rachmaninoff's Symphonic Dances but also quite a few so-so recordings. Now that I have very revealing system, problematic recordings are painfully obvious. I'll try to maybe summarize those few that I have so that it may help someone, as it seems to be really a hit-and-miss with Naxos. One good strategy might be to find a good performer/recording and then buy other CDs that have the same combination - Naxos contracts the same orchestra to record for example the complete Dvorak symphonies so if you like one you will probably like the others too (at least sound wise).
post #7 of 27
I'm also a Naxos fan. They have pretty good DDD stuff out there. Some recordings are less satisfying, but others are definitely worth checking out at those budget prices.

I particularly enjoy the Naxos version of Mozart's "Magic Flute" opera, and also have several other CDs by them. (I Pagliacci, Cavalleria Rusticana, Manon Lescaut, La Sonnambula, etc)

You can try sites like Gramphon and Classical Review to gather "expert opinions" on Naxos recordings, but your ears are the ultimate test.
post #8 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by MessierObject

Don't be shy about forking over your money to Naxos....really, these are the Good Guys! It's Sony/Polygram/Warner you don't want feeding their children on your hard-earned blood.

Ahaha, nice way to put it.
post #9 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by grrr223
Thanks a lot DanG. Being a poor college student, I think the price is going to win out here on priorities while I build a classical CD collection, so I think I'll give them a try. I checked ou their website, and they have a lot of informative information on how to listen to a live performance and how to build a CD collection even,
Grr, if that's what you're looking for, I strongly recommend David Pogue's Classical Music for Dummies book. Yes, it has that ridiculous title and the sick yellow color, but the man's sense of humour is diabolic, and the book ends up being very refreshing and educative. Also comes with a CD with great pieces, which are dissected in detail by Pogue. (The 2nd movement of Mozart's Piano Concert 22 is almost worth the book's sprice just by itself).
post #10 of 27
>Don't be shy about forking over your money to Naxos....really, >these are the Good Guys! It's Sony/Polygram/Warner you don't >want feeding their children on your hard-earned blood.

With this I most certainly agree. We need to give "less known" artists a chance, especially at those low prices. I am sure there are artists that can rival much more well known ones, as I have been pleseantly surprised more than once after buying a cheap CD. Being good today isn't enough - marketing is 80% of success.

It is true that when paying more you get higher chance of good performance/recording but it is by no means guaranteed. I was hoping to post maybe a few quick reviews thinking I have only a few Naxos CDs... Turns out I have 23 of them!

One that I can MOST CERTAINLY recommend is Cavatina. It's a compilation of guitar music. Choice of music, performance and sound recording quality are spectacular! This CD is very worthy of being used as a test CD when comparing headphones/amps.
post #11 of 27
Quote:
Personally, I think that's a Good Thing about the label, not a defect! I like to see the $$ get into the hands of young, new musicians. And, the Naxos management is trying to develop a stable, instead of overcharging us for overpriced Big Undeserving Names.....or even Overundeserving names....
Couldn't agree more! The Naxos line offers a lot of value for the dollar!
post #12 of 27
Also, check out Naxos catalogue. (Free booklet at your friendly
neighborhood music store)
They may no longer do this, but catalogue from couple years back
included indications of high ratings from esteemed music
publications (Penguin Guide, Gramophone, etc.)
post #13 of 27
Quote:
Originally posted by frankclone
Also, check out Naxos catalogue. (Free booklet at your friendly neighborhood music store). They may no longer do this...
Yes, they do still give away the latext Naxos catalog... at least at Tower Records, where I was yesterday...it was This Year's catalog, and there were enough to go around.

Quote:
Originally posted by frankclone
...catalogue from couple years back
included indications of high ratings from esteemed music
publications (Penguin Guide, Gramophone, etc.)
Also, they still include the reviewer's marks. Good Hunting....
post #14 of 27

Grr thanks for this post!

At least I know I am not the only one here enjoying Naxos recordings!

They actually have a pretty good Web Site which allows you to register for their monthly newsletter. The newsletter is sent in e-mail form and provides complete updates of recordings in process and new releases.

I agree with people here that the quality does vary from recording to recording. However, as a fan of early Baroque I really enjoy the way they are recorded. Naxos has done what few recording companies have done and actually tried to record the pieces in the environments they were written for.

For example their recently "Stereophile" recommended recordings of J.S. Bach's - Sonatas for Violin and Harpsichord were recorded in a North London church. This IMO beautifully recreates the audible resonance that the music was intended to have. Another recording by Naxos I enjoy is J.S. Bach - Concertos for Oboe and Oboe d'amore with Christian Hommel playing oboe & Lisa Stewart playing Violin.
post #15 of 27
Hello.. I am not really interested in classical music, but while browsing the Naxos website I noticed they also have a jazz sub-label with all kinds of new jazz artists.
Anyone checked these out? Any recommendations?
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