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A Great Classical Record Label Has Ceased To Exist

  Without fanfare , Philips records ,one of the top classical record labels has gone out of existence.  The Dutch label  has produced  so many superb recordings over the years by such great conductors as  Sir Colin Davis,Bernard Haitink ,Valery Gergiev , Sir Neville Marriner,
Antal Dorati ,  Kurt Masur ,  and others ,  with such  great orchestras as the Royal Concertgebous orchestra of Amsterdam , the London Symphony,  Berlin Philharmonic , Philadelphia orchestra, the Vienna Philharmonic ,  Boston symphony and others , as well as  great violinists ,pianists and other  instrumentalists as  Henryk Szerying, Alfred Brendel,  Claudio Arrau ,  etc, and  a galaxy of  great opera singers .

   What happened ?  Well, Philips was part of a consortium of  major classical record labels including   Decca and Deutsche Grammophon etc ,  and the vicissitudes of the classical recording industry  have  forced  it to  reissue many recordings from its back catalogue on the Decca label .
But it will no longer be issuing any new recordings ,unfortunately , and many fine Philips recordings  have yet to be reissued on Decca.

   Things have changed vastly for the entire classical recording  industry .  Hardly any  of  the world's great orchestras has a contract with any  record label ,  and some,such as the  Chicago symphony, Royal Concertgebouw ,Boston symphony and others have been  issuing  live  live performances on their own .  Sales of classal CDs ,never more than a small part of alll CD sales , have  declined .

  However ,  there is  a growing market for classical DVDs, particularly of  live opera performances , and  Deutsche Grammophon ,Decca, EMI  and other labels have been  issuing many of these .  Studio recordings of operas ,  made like movies  in  edited takes without an audience ,are pretty much a thing of the past .  They are simply too expensive to  produce ,  and tend not to sell that well anyway.  But there is an enormous back catalogue of these studio opera recordings  from the past of a vast range of operas .

   Most  complete opera recordings on CD are now of live performances,  sometimes issued both  on CD and DVD.  In the past ,  great  conductors , instrumentalists and opera singers  had contracts with  record labels , and produced a steady stream of recordings . But now ,  far fewer of their younger counterparts are able to do this ,though some have been making a fair number of recordings . 

   Some of the independent classical labels, such as  Chandos  and CPO , are still managing to produce  quite a few studio recordings ,and  even some studio recordings of operas .  But they  specialize in  offbeat repertoire , not the repertoire standards .  The budget label Naxos ,after  a modest beginning  in the late 1980s  making  low cost recordings wth  lesser-known  orchestras  from eastern Europe , has now become  the most successful  classical record label  ,  and  also produces DVDs .

   But  recordings of the  popular  masterpieces by such  top labels as Decca, EMI ,  R.C.A. and  Sony Classical (now  combined into one label  ,andd Deutsche Grammophon  are now  quite rare .  There are hundreds of smaller independent labels  competing  for  sales ,  and many offer high quality performances of interesting repertoire . 

  So there is good and bad in the classical recording industry ; some of the mighty have fallen ,  but there is  incredible diversity of classical repertoire available  to  classical CD collectors ,and more and more on DVD .  Those who are tired of collecting the same old  masterpieces by Mozart,Beethoven,Bach , Schubert ,Tchaikovsky and Brahms etc now have  a mind-boggling variety of  classical repertoire ot choose from .  It's rather like being the  proverbial kid in a candy store .
Posted: Apr 29 2011, 05:40 PM by the horn | with no comments
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