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 Recording of the Week  Chandos Records - 30 years young

So far this year I’ve heard numerous announcements about record labels releasing their artists, the most recent being the somewhat surprising (and slightly worrying) decision by Deutsche Grammophon to drop Paul McCreesh and his Gabrieli Ensemble. However there is one label out there which is definitely bucking the trend and rather than dropping artists, seems to be signing them - and lots of them as well - and that is the British label Chandos Records which this year celebrates its thirtieth anniversary.

Sir Andrew Davis with Ralph Couzens
Sir Andrew Davis with Ralph Couzens

Chandos were dealt a huge blow late last year by the premature death of their No 1 artist, Richard Hickox. In 20 years with the label he had made a remarkable 282 CDs and really spearheaded their commitment to British music. Replacing him is of course impossible, but with projects in the pipeline, and their continuing vision to champion rare and neglected repertoire (particularly British), signing a conductor or two was essential. At the end of last month they formally announced the signing of Sir Andrew Davis and Edward Gardner. Plans for both conductors look really exciting with Andrew Davis beginning with the complete music for The Crown of India by Elgar, followed by works for chorus and orchestra by Percy Grainger, while ENO’s principal conductor Edward Gardner will open with a disc of British orchestral songs with soprano Susan Gritton.

And it doesn’t stop there. Following last year’s signing of the young bassoonist Karen Geoghegan, Chandos have recently added two more young artists to their books: violinist and former BBC Young Musician of the Year Jennifer Pike (who will begin with the Violin Concerto of Miklós Rózsa) and conductor and cellist Paul Watkins (whose next disc will include the Cello Concerto of Luigi Dallapiccola).

In what most people are describing as ‘difficult times’ it is really great to see a label making such a clear indication of their commitment and plans for the future, and I will of course keep you up to date with the actual release of all the recordings mentioned above, as and when they happen, in this weekly newsletter.

As I mentioned above, Chandos have an anniversary to mark this year, and to celebrate thirty years in the classical recording world, Chandos have released a limited edition thirty-disc set featuring some of the great recordings from the company’s history. It came out a couple of months ago and we’ve already sold well over a hundred copies, but it represents such outstanding value that I thought I should give it a special mention before it is too late, as it has already been re-pressed once and I’m told when this batch is gone that will be that. Full details via the link below but for now suffice to say that 30 outstanding CDs for the price of just 3 doesn’t come along very often!