30 Years of Chandos - An Interview with Brian
and Ralph Couzens
Chairman and Founder of Chandos, Brian Couzens, and Managing
Director, Brian's son Ralph Couzens were interviewed by Rob
Barnett at the Chandos offices in Colchester on 15 December
The occasion: the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of
the independent family-run company Chandos Records in 1979.
Brian Couzens, Sir Charles Mackerras, Ralph Couzens
RC: Ralph Couzens
BC: Brian Couzens
RB: Rob Barnett
RB First of all congratulations
on the coming 30 year anniversary of Chandos. I have been
to remember exactly when Chandos started in 1979. When
BC It was in November that the first LPs came
RB Do I recall some connection with
RCA in those early days?
BC Yes we did recordings for them and for other
companies. We were a mobile recording unit and drove around
the country recording for major labels.
RC RCA was our biggest client but we also recorded
for EMI, Contour and others.
RB Am I right in recalling that you recorded
Norman del Mar and the RPO in Elgarís Enigma for
Polydor - always thought it was superb Ė terribly underrated
BC Yes we did. That was at Guildford
RC It was on Pickwick and now DG, I think.
RB I thought a lot of Del Mar - his
choice of repertoire and the spirit he brought to his music-making.
BC It was about that time (first half of the
1970s - before Chandos) we also made a nursery rhymes record.
It sold a million and a half which gave us the money to
get some decent equipment.
RB Enthusiasts like me tend to forget
that this is a business. It wouldn't exist without making
a return on investment.
RC It's very hard today - I can tell you that
RB From the point of view of enthusiasts
Chandos is a shining example to the industry. The company
is held in great affection. Thatís all very well but surely
what matters is whether the discs sell. How have sales
been affected over last 5 or 6 years? Have figures tended
to drop? Thatís what I would have expected.
RC They have dropped worldwide and we are
not alone in that. All labels have the same problems. Major
labels have their own agenda - mostly cross-over material
and great name artists. They have big marketing budgets
and big sales. That's what they work on. The core classical
stuff tends to be left with the smaller independents like
us, Hyperion, Bis, Harmonia Mundi and so forth. But the
retail side has been dropping as retail classical record
stores disappear. There's not enough money to be made out
of it. So it's more and more difficult.
BC Chandos got into downloads in the early days
and that seems to be growing. We were one of the first
small independent to start a downloading operation.
RC Yes thatís been very successful especially
in the USA through I-Tunes. It certainly helped us. Recently
we had more download sales than CD sales in the USA and
that's helped balance the books. The CD is not dead but
most of our client group is in the older age bracket -
they tend to like their CDs and don't know much about computers
and downloading. So there's still a market for us and there
are still people who like classical music. They want our
product and we have to find ways of getting it to them.
If we can do it through downloading or selling CDs direct
by mail order then that's what will we do. If the shops
are not there then we have no alternative. We know there
is a public and always will be for classical recordings.
RC The enthusiasts and collectors are out
there but itís a matter of finding a shop to get the product
to them. Those shops are closing everywhere. Even so the
CD looks set to be with us for a while. People are still
looking for a successor medium but nothing of the CDís
convenience, universality and draw has appeared as yet.
There's SACD of course and there the big benefit is surround-sound
but it's tough enough getting and placing two speakers
leave alone five. CD is for a mass market and SACD has
turned out to be a niche market. The younger generation
is coming through but they're primarily looking for downloads.
Yet a significant part of our market centres on the older
population - plus 45 onwards.
RC SACD is a superior product Ė a superior
medium. Itís a more expensive product for us to produce
and for the public to buy. The big benefit is surround
sound - quality speakers, well positioned in a good room.
Itís not going to be a mass market, SACD will always be
niche but niche alone is not enough to keep record labels
in enough funds to record the products that our customers
expect of us.
RB Ė As for downloads I must say that
I prefer the compact disc. I like the artefact as well
as the experience of the recording.
RB - I am in that age group 55-60 but
thereís no longer term future in that group. What about
the younger generations? Are they coming through and in
RC Oh yes Ė but primarily through the download.
When we started our website we were selling CDs only. We
then had a database of regular customers who wanted to
know what was new on Chandos. We would send them email
letters and keep them up to date. It was a few thousand
people. When we launched our download site and did a similar
thing we had a whole new list of names that hadnít been
dealing with us before. A lot of them were younger and
a lot of them were female.
BC .... and you kept flirting with them.
RC You just have to do everything you
can to get sales. Ö. We were astonished at the size of
the list and it proved there was a whole new market out
there for us. So yes the new generation is coming through
on downloads with a positive knock on effect on CDís. Yes,
believe it or not, some of the download customers buy CDís
RB Enough of them?
RC Absolutely! The exciting thing about downloads
is that you can buy something straightaway. You have the
whole catalogue available to the customer immediately.
A huge wealth of music is available on tap all the time.
Thereís no need to scour the countryside trying find it.
In the retail market itís a vicious circle that just keeps
shrinking and shrinking. The shops canít stock enough and
so people move to mail order. Thereís an enormous hump
of business at Christmas though - look at Amazon. And yes
we benefit from the Christmas season as well. We monitor
sales going through and the shift this last month (December)
has been away from downloads to CDs because people want
physical things as gifts. We are now selling more CDs than
downloads because you donít give away downloads. You give
away a product - something you can actually handle. There
still life in the CD.
RB You have a very active bulletin board.
But who at Chandos listens to all the wild-eyed people
me. If you took on all we want you to record Chandos wouldnít
last long. Even so, you do manage an enormous amount of
rare material and it keeps coming .....
RC Well we want these ideas to keep coming.
A lot are really wacky and very personal to certain people
and wonít have worldwide appeal. Occasionally, though,
something pops out of those that fit into our programme.
It generally works if we are doing a whole series on one
particular composer. Someone might come up with something
you have not heard of or missed in your research... and
you think that piece would fit very well then weíll do
it. Hearing from the public and the classical fraternity
is very important to us.
RB You must ride your own hobby horses
RC Oh yes, of course we do. Alas Richard
Hickox has gone now but we had just started with him a
cycle of Holst orchestral works which was going to culminate
in The Planets Ö yet again, but one has to do it.
We were doing the whole RVW with Richard and in the past
have done Walton and most of Elgar and Delius and Stanford
and so it goes on. We do like to do things in a complete
way especially British music which is what we have made
our name on Ö and also our sound, of course. Our ethos
is - if we are going to do it we will do it properly. We
donít like dabbling. Especially with people like Malcolm
Arnold thereís a lot of good music and also some not so
good but you do it because itís part of the series. Malcolm
Arnold, poor old chap Ė went a bit wayward ... towards
the end, didnít he? If you do a complete series you do
it warts and all.
RB You certainly proved that with Bax.
RC Yes and we did 19 volumes of Percy Grainger.
He did some things so many different ways Ė same tune but
different instrumentation. There must be six different
versions of Londonderry Air for a start. ĎElastic
orchestrasí he called it.
RB Over the 30 years what do you take most
pride in among Chandosís achievements?
BC Favourite all-time disc? Ö Well, we take
pride in our sound quality. Itís always rated 4 or 5 stars.
From our earliest days Ralph and I created a sound which
has run through for ever and ever.
RC Pride? Well, certain projects sum us up -
the whole Bax thing from day 1 with Jack Thomson and the
Ulster Orchestra. That was what made the mark for us with
The Gramophone Award for Bax Symphony 4. But the real star
was the Britten War Requiem we did with Richard.
That was a double Gramophone Award winner. It summed us
up: Britten with great sound, the whole production values
and the performance, of course. It was a real mark of what
RC We have always supported British artists
and composers whilst not neglecting the foreign ones. Our
French pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet has just completed
his Debussy cycle. Itís getting rave reviews which help
our exposure in his homeland France. We have recorded artists
from many countries and composers of course, one even from
Japan. We try to mix and match it around but we have become
known as a British company doing British music. We also
tend to specialise in the bigger ensembles, orchestral,
choral and opera. We are in that field and like that sound.
You can create something special with the big things.
RB Ö theyíre also the most expensive.
RC Ö and thatís why these days itís even
more important to find sponsors and partners and grant
RB Is that your task or does someone
else do that?
RC Easier if itís done by the artists. The grant
bodies want to hear from the artists. They favour artistic
people rather than the business world. If an artist say ďCan
I have some funding, please?Ē, theyíre more likely to say
yes to them than if I went there.
Might be something to do with
me of course!
BC Donít forget our famous series of opera
from Peter Moores - Opera in English. Thereís about
90 volumes of that series now. A remarkable achievement.
RC Yes, it has been popular in recent years
and well received especially those we have done with Sir
Charles Mackerras. Today the Daily Telegraph voted our Salomť as
DT Disc Of The Year.
BC We won a Grammy for Hansel and Gretel and
in November this year I had an honorary doctorate from
Anglia-Ruskin University in recognition of my contributions
to music. When I started I was an arranger and orchestrator.
I worked with Ron Goodwin for ten years on films such as 633
Squadron and Where Eagles Dare and so on. I
did all the orchestration. I had a good feeling for music
and about what sound is all about. I took Ralph out of
school at 16 to become a sound engineer. We worked together
RB That was in your contractor days - did you
like being the contractor.
RC Well, we had always been a recording unit.
We knew that end of the business; we booked the musicians
and contracted them. And that of course continued when
Chandos was formed. From 1978-9 onwards we had to employ
other people to do the graphic designer and distribution.
That was a new thing for us Ė a very steep learning curve
and a very big change.
RC Yes - nowadays I donít know anyone else
who does their own recording work. Everyone uses other
Perhaps Signum or BIS Ė they have their own producer. In
the old days Decca and EMI had their own people. As far
as independents are concerned we must be only one that
has its own recording team.
RB What about your own classical music interests Ö.
BC Well Ö music. Music generally. I used to
play trombone in dance bands. Then I arranged music for
the BBC - light music. Then I did some recordings for EMI.
It was all light music - dance music.† After that I moved
into the classical world.
RB How about the transition into film
BC Someone recommended me to Ron Goodwin. He
was getting into a state with the amount of work he was
getting. He simply couldn't handle it all. He gave me a
chance to orchestrate a film score and he was very happy
with the results. For ten years I worked for him. I ended
up living in his house. He was writing in one room and
I was busy arranging his sketches for orchestra. Ken Hare
was in another room copying the parts from my full scores.
I didn't see much of home life during that time. It's all
done by computer now.
RC I like stuff that has some kind of musical
substance to it. Melodic mostly. It must have a good tune
- and tonal. Consequently I do like a bit of jazz, classical
of course, some pop music but it has to have something
that means something. There's a lot of rubbish around.
BC Screech and rumble stuff!
RC There's a lot of mathematical music out
there that does nothing for me.
RB I should have worked that out from
your catalogue ... very little later Schoenberg for instance.
RC† No. We are more on the romantic side.
RB Which concerts do you attend? Do you have
time to go to concerts?
RC Yes, Mostly connected with our artists.
We try to support them when we can if they are in London
doing something. I attend quite a few Prom concerts. They're
quite a lot of fun.
RB How many Chandos recording sessions
do you now choose to attend?
BC I'm semi-retired now so only a couple really.
RC Well. Take the BBC Phil recordings. I used
to go and produce them all. But I don't do any of them
now. They're all done by Brian Pidgeon in Manchester. When
I moved up into this position I had to get rid of something.
I couldn't do everything. Now, I tend the bigger things
only - all the operas and big orchestral things. I also
take on one or two chamber projects where artists insist
on me in person. Jean-Efflam Bavouzet likes me to produce
his Debussy. Kathy Stott wants me for all her sessions.
I have a very good in house assistant to me, Jon Cooper
and an outside producer to do the early music stuff for
the Chaconne label.
RB Why the name 'Chandos. Is it Chandos
BC Itís Chandos. The idea for the name
came from the BBC. They had a Chandos Club. There was also
a Lord Chandos. Anyway the BBC gave us permission to use
the name. You have to check out the name as we did to make
sure it doesn't mean anything rude in the different countries
across the world ... and it doesn't!
RC Lord Chandos was the first sponsor of the
arts. He funded Handel's Chandos anthems. But the real
reason was because Brian spent a lot of time at the BBC
and they had a Chandos Club at the time and he was working
as arranger for their light music orchestral programs.
RB How many CDs have you issued?
RC In total over 2000 for Chandos. But there
have been some deletions so running currently at just about
1600. If you include ones we did for other labels before
Chandos it's about 3000 overall.
RB What is Chandos's attitude to deletion
policy. Is it scientific?
RC Not scientific. Of course accountancy comes
into it - financial matters. There comes a point where
it is non-viable to keep a disc in the catalogue if it's
only going to sell ten units a year. With those sort of
things we tend to delete them and try to repackage them
to bring them out at mid-price or in a different compilation.
This gets them out again because at the end of day even
though the product is not selling any more it still has
intrinsic value. You spend lot of time and effort doing
it in the first place. So what's the point of leaving it
on the shelf. Then again all our titles - regardless of
CD sales - are available for download even if deleted.
It's one of the big advantages of download. They're all
available all the time with no worries about whether they
are making money for you or not.
RB What marks out the classical recording
world from the pop world?
RC It's a totally different way of working.
Classical is recorded on location in a hall somewhere.
Pop is all done in studios. Classical recordings - even
more so now - tend to be done in a very live environment
with very little editing. With pop it's in-studio and all
multi-tracked and manufactured. Marketing-wise they have
huge budgets in pop music. You throw tons of money at your
ten bands and one of them might make it big. With classical
it's a completely different kettle of fish. If we take
something on we have to have faith in it in the first place.
We can't throw money at lots of things and hope one of
them makes it. A lot of thinking goes into whether we take
something on. We support everything equally. Budgets are
a lot less in classical as far as marketing is concerned.
RB I thought Chandos did a great recording
achieving sensational presence in the Franz Schmidt Book
of the Seven Seals. It was live with an audience.
RC Yes, Another one of those types of
project coming up soon. We're releasing Bernstein's Mass with
Kristian Jšrvi. Bernstein wrote it with surround-sound
in mind. It has taped voices in the score. He wanted those
taped voices to come out of four different speakers as
part of the performance. He was thinking about quadrophonic
when he wrote it. Quad was being experimented with when
Bernstein wrote the Mass. This will be on SACD and the
four voice lines will come out each from its own speaker.
RB Which recording project has given
you the most delight ... never mind pride?
BC I would say the War Requiem with
RC One of the projects I really like - and
listen to it to this day - is Richard Strauss's Alpine
Symphony which we recorded in Dundee back in 1987 with
Jšrvi. Iíll always remember because it was in the winter:
January or February. It was a terrible winter and we got
stuck up in Dundee. It was a 22 hour drive home.
BC We also did the Four Last Songs there
with Felicity Lott.
RC There was a lot of press interest at the
time locally in Dundee because the Strauss uses an enormous
orchestra: off-stage brass horns and everything else. We
had players coming in from all over Scotland. We had the
whole massive horn section line-up outside in the snow
for a photo by the local press. Quite a lot of fun but
the performance - even after all that - was stunning
RC Ö and yes thatís typical Jšrvi. Very little
rehearsal and everything depending on musicians being glued
to him on the day. Inspirational - you never know what
he is going to do because he changes his mind like the
wind. Like Gergiev its all pure inspirational stuff - pure
spontaneity but you get great exciting performances with
very little editing.
RC Other example of delightful recordings?
There are so many. When you have to pick one out of 3000
itís just so hard.
RB Do you interact with the reviewing world?
RC We have a press officer do that. Itís
up to him to do all the interaction, apart from Gramophone
launches and dinners, annual awards and that sort of thing.
They have their job; we have ours. We do interact when
they get something factually wrong, then we put out a message
via Paul (Chandos press officer) to sort that out. The
whole thing about music is that it is totally subjective.
They will have an opinion and we have an opinion.
BC Some give 2 stars and some give 5 stars
for the same recording.
RC Perfect example this month is Mackerrasís Salomť in
English. The Gramophone reviewer John Steane - big vocal
expert Ė praises the recording but says itís spoilt by
only one thing, the voice of the lead singer, Susan Bullock.
He found little satisfaction in her voice. He says that
her voice was not rich or silvery. On the other hand we
get Record of Month in DT - glorious ratings. The
Gramophone guy is being honest and you canít fault him
for that or do anything about it.
RB Do you get pressure from artists
to react to 'bad' reviews?
RC Very rarely actually. They are in the
same position as we are. It's their product as well as
ours. They also get reviewed at concerts and they have
to put up with whatever press has to say. Thatís the way
it is. The only pressure I get is where reviews arenít being
published at all. For example in Germany only the review
of volume 1 of the Bavouzet Debussy cycle has been published Ö and
there are four.
RB But Debussyís a hard sell in Germany anyway.
RC Well, up to a point Ö though easier to
sell Debussy in Germany than RVW.
RB Yes, so more pressure that reviews happen
rather than what is said in the review.
RB Do you have a target number of releases
RC We run at six now. We used to do 12 or 14
a month. But we downsized in 2005. We were at the building
two doors up the road from here in Commerce Way. We used
to be a company that did everything: our own sales, own
distribution, own warehouse, own art department and three studios.
At that time we employed 50 people. Now we are down to
14. Now, anything we can do outside more efficiently we
will do outside. Our distribution is now done for us by
Select at Redhill. We externalised our art department though
luckily the same people are now working for us from home
on a contractor basis so we keep consistency of Chandos
style. We reduced the studios down to one so consequently
our output had to reduce to six with a fallow month in
BC Ö and repackages in July.
RC Yes, we found that for some strange reason
if we stop for a month or so people think we have disappeared.
So we do a lot of repackaging. Recently did a lot of Jšrviís
Prokofiev and thatís going really well so we will do more
of that next year.
RB How often do you meet for business strategy
RC As a board we tend to meet only twice
a year. Thereís only three of us: Brian, me and Sue Revill,
our finance director. Artist & Repertoire meetings
take place more often.
RB There have been two grievous losses over
the last year: Handley and Hickox. In the future is there
any figure you see taking on the mantles carried by these
very fine musicians at Chandos.
RC Yes, Edward Gardner. Heís Music Director
of the ENO. Not specifically for British music but he is
a new talent we will take on. One to watch, I think. Heís
definitely going to go places. Heís a conductor - but a
violinist I am looking at is Jennifer Pike Ė previous young
musician of the year and current BBC Young Generation Artist.
We also have plans for some British projects to be conducted
by Sir Andrew Davis.
RB I am intrigued that you license out to Brilliant
Classics in quite a big way in recent years.
RC Well, not in a big way. Not done any for
a while, actually. It was a way of getting some exposure
for product that had completely done nothing for us recently.
We werenít actually promoting it for licensing. They came
to us saying that they needed one symphony. They get one
symphony from one company and one from another and assemble
their collections in that way. So we gave them one symphony
as we thought that canít harm our complete sets of this
or that. A lot of it was one-offs. We havenít done much
of that for a while actually.
RB Yes there was Borodin, Rachmaninov songs,
RC Yes, Polyansky did not record all the Glazunov;
nor did Neeme. Of the ones available to Brilliant not everyone
had recorded all of them and Brilliant were going round
trying to find ways of completing the set.
they seem to have gone to Sanctuary-ASV to fill in with
the Glazunov symphony
Polyansky had not recorded: No. 3. But itís fascinating
that you steer clear of doing those massive and really
cheapĖper-CD sets you see from EMI and some of the other
majors these days. Can you see any aspect of Chandos doing
that in future or will it always be at armís length?
RC We have always believed that whatever
we do has value. It is not only because what we do has
us a certain amount of money but the music itself has value.
That seems to be forgotten in most of the industry now.
We like to hang on to that value which is significant to
do something with. If you keep knocking product down to
ridiculous budget price levels youíve got no margins left
whatsoever and it becomes valueless. And so thereís no
point in doing anything with it. You might as well throw
it away. Itís like all these discs you see on front of
magazines and DVDs on the front of papers. Itís getting
harder and harder in this environment for the record industry
to survive: the costs are going up all the time and thereís
a struggle to find sponsors and grants to make the recordings.
Yet the end result of what we produce is being forced to
be devalued not only by retail but by the general view
that music should be for free. And I think that's wrong.
Thatís the reason the Brilliant stuff is at arms length.
We donít want Chandosís name to be associated with that
activity. We will license material out but only where thereís
no competition with product we are selling internally ourselves.
RB Did you scrap over which CDs would go
into the 30 CD celebration
box coming out in January or
RC No - not easy. It was hard. We had to start
off with some criteria. There were personal favourites,
of course. What we ended up with were those discs that
have made the biggest difference to Chandos - the landmarks.
A lot were obvious: those which changed things or had the
greatest impact on us.
BC We wanted to include the War Requiem but
we couldn't as it runs over 1 CD.
RC Yes Ė to go in they had to be single discs.
We could easily have done a lot more than 30 though. You
have to have all the award-winners in. You also have to
represent some of the key artists you have worked with
over the years. Thatís another criterion. The Gibson Planets went
in as it was our very first digital recording. Recorded
in 1978 it was a quite unique project for any label let
alone us. That was with Alex Gibson and the SNO and was
a landmark for us and for the industry. We had the very
first digital Planets out in the shops.
BC That was a very difficult project Ė our
first experience of digital editing.
RB Do your bankers affect your artistic choices?
RC The bankers leave us alone. So long as
we donít go bankrupt theyíre happy.
RB So, closer to home, to what extent does your
Finance Director influence your recording decisions.
RC Oh, very much so. Sue Revill is our finance
director. Sheís a strong voice and sheís musical as well.
She has been with us a very long time and is a big supporter
of what we do. If she can make something work financially
then even if everyone else says we are mad doing it, she
will make it happen. She says: we canít afford do it so
find another way Ö and we usually do.
RB The Foulds World Requiem project Ė was
that an example of that financial tension and creativity?
RC Yes Ė thatís a great disc, by way. The
only way that worked was because it had to be live. No
it be put on as recording sessions. Extensive funds were
put into it from private sponsors through the conductor,
Botstein. For that reason the Chandos input was sustainable.
RB Are you planning any further connection
with Botstein? I mention this because of the miraculous
series he has been putting on with the American SO - truly
unique and adventurous programming: Marx, Suter, way-out
Prokofiev and so much more - concert after concert!
was some interest in doing more with Leon but heís not based here in the
UK - resides in the US. Thereís nothing in the melting
pot at the moment but thereís definite potential in that
guy so not to say nothing will happen with him Ö You mentioned
Joseph Marx Ė well, thereís a new Chandos disc of his orchestral
songs with Christine Brewer the BBCSO and Jiri Behlolavek
RB Yes itís definitely on my want list.
I hope you might do the Marx Herbstsymphonie. Itís
a luxuriant big piece 75-80 minutes with a lavish orchestra
RC Yes we know about that. Weíve been shown
the score. We looked at it and said whoís paying for that.
Six harps in it or something.† Itís enormous but it IS the
sort of project Chandos do. Certainly whets the appetite.
RB Youíre heavily dependent on the oil industry.
Does that affect your commercial decisions? Is the price
of raw materials for CDs having its impact?
RC Raw materials costs of CDs have not changed
that much in last few years to cause any significant impact.
Thereís pressure from both sides Ė from industry to keep
prices down and from the raw material suppliers to pass
on increases. So the industry finds ways to keep prices
level because they donít want to lose business. They also
realise that downloading is putting a lot of pressure on
the CD anyway. Upping prices would be another nail in the
RB Congratulations on the CD reissue of the
1975 RCA LP of the Rubbra masses conducted by Richard Hickox Ė one
of his earliest recordings.
RC The idea for that came from Adrian Yardley,
the composerís son, not from Richard. The rights in the
original recording were owned by the producer, Michael
Smythe who gave us permission to make the transfer from
LP to the CD.
RB You couldn't have expected that CD. It
came straight out of the blue Ö You mentioned part-completed
cycles. What hope is there for completing your sequence
of RVW symphonies started by Richard Hickox?
RC As far as the VWs are concerned we are looking
into obtaining the other two symphonies. They were done
for broadcast by Richard with the Bournemouth Symphony
with BBC Radio 3. The BBC has them somewhere. We are trying
to get them and if we can get them we will issue
an RVW symphonies box. We are working on that now.
RC As for un-issued Richard Hickox tapes
Holst volume 1 in January 09. Then in February thereís
vol. 1 of a Goossens series featuring Symphony 2 coupled
with the Phantasy Piano Concerto with Howard Shelley
and the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. We were in the middle
of recording Holst volume 2 with Richard when he died.
It was Holstís Choral Symphony. Sadly thereís not
enough to issue. Yes, he was doing that with the BBC National
Orchestra of Wales in Swansea at the same time as he was
preparing live performances of RVWís Riders To the Sea which
Edward Gardner took over.
RB Do you have any unpublished stuff in the
coffers. A colleague was speculating that you might have
some un-issued John Ogdon Ö?
RC We worked with Ogdon years ago in the
Alwyn piano music but that has been out for ages. We donít have
anything else in the archive that weíve not been able to
issue. Mind you there are lots of things we want to do
not Ö but, no, nothing held back in the archive that we
want to issue.
RB The record industry has been moving away
from multiple recordings of the same old works. The day
has come where the CD is constantly pushing back the boundaries
into the unfamiliar or unknown. Itís pushing the repertoire
envelope out further and further and finding new peripheries
all the time.
RC Itís something that us small independent
labels have to do because thereís no point in competing
on standard repertoire with the majors. So we have to find
interesting works that they are neglecting.
RB I notice some CDs (not Chandos) becoming
coy about recording locations. Is there any commercial
confidentiality in keeping the best new halls and venues
not really - we are not shy about putting on where recordings
Obviously we have preferences for where we record for acoustic
reasons which is paramount in any recording. And we have
our favourites and our not so favourites. But thatís life.
London is very difficult. Itís tough to find good places
because of the traffic noise. For opera we do all our recordings
in Blackheath concert halls but for orchestral repertoire
our favourite hall is Watford Colosseum - in the London
area. Having said that some of our fantastic results -
like the War Requiem -†† were done in St Jude-on-the-Hill
church but the local council put an injunction on it to
limit the number of people that can work there because
of noise towards the residents.
RB Will there be further instalments in the
Chandos Film Music series?
RC Yes the Film Music series goes on. Thereís
tons of music to do. Itís just a matter of the orchestral
performing material. The problem is finding the material.
So much of it was scrapped and burned after the film was
BC Thereís a big film music archive warehouse
RC Yes but thatís mostly USA material. Even
when we find material its rarely a complete set of parts.
We find sketches, incomplete sections, bits missing so
we need put together new complete set of parts.
RB (to BC) after all your hard work
BC Yes - what happened to your original scores?
In fact quite recently we did come across some of your
BC In my hand-writing?
RC Yes. I was surprised they were still there.
I thought they would have disappeared.
RB Speaking of British film music - will you
be getting around to doing a Brian Easdale disc: Black
Narcissus and A Matter of Life and Death etc?
I keep asking about this. Youíll be getting tired of it Ö
RC Oh yes, heís on the list. You know Philip
Lane? Well heís working very hard trying to get access
to scores and necessary permissions. Thereís now a more
positive side coming through from the Easdale Canadian
RB Werenít you going to issue the York Bowen
first two symphonies?
RC Well we were going to record them
with Handley but we now plan to record them with Rumon
Gamba. Heís another strong presence. In fact Gamba's díIndy
recording Ė the one we did recently with the Iceland Symphony
Orchestra has been nominated for a Grammy. Such are things
in Iceland at the moment that the Icelandic PM has made
a public statement welcoming the award and praising the
RB What about more Bax? Is there any more to
RC Well there is at least one work we want
to do. Thatís the Viola Concerto or Viola Phantasy. Lewis
Foreman has also dug up some other Bax rarities to go with
RB What would you want to say to the record-buying
RC Only that we will continue to support you
with what you want if we can find acceptable recording
opportunities. Just look at our Contemporaries of Mozart series
in which we have partnered the London Mozart Players and
Mathias Bamert. This has done so very well Ė in a decidedly
Other Chandos 30th anniversary-related articles
Chandos Records 30th
Anniversary by Rob Barnett
Chandos Records -
Chandos Records -
A Short History