Naxos CDs with Great Sound

Naxos Classical CDs with Great Sound

The Naxos label was started by Klaus Heymann 16 years ago " with no great ambitions other than making classical recordings available on CD at a price comparable to that of LPs." Sixteen years later Naxos has become "the world's leading classical label in terms of genuine new releases and of available, unduplicated repertoire." Many good judges, including Mr. Heymann himself, have been astonished at the phenomenal growth of this amazing budget-priced record label. There is no question that today Naxos is the leading classical label in the world in terms of the ambitiousness and adventurousness of its catalog and its ongoing recording program.

Earlier Naxos recordings, as you might expect of budget-priced cheapies, were not particularly distinguished for their engineering (and occasionally not for their performances either). But the Naxos recordings of recent years have sometimes leapt to the forefront of the competition, not just in terms of repertoire and quality of performance, but even in terms of quality of sound. I've been astonished at how good the sound is on some of them; the excellence of their engineering has proved to be an unexpected bonus and delight. I'd like to invite anyone to name Naxos recordings that you have found outstanding for the quality of their sound. And to get the ball rollling, here are my three candidates, all three of which have demonstration-quality sound and first-class performances of enjoyable music (and all three have received multiple rave reviews in the music press). (Perhaps it's not a coincidence that all three recordings are of orchestras in Great Britain?)

1. William Schuman, Violin Concerto, New England Triptych, Variations on "America." Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, Jose Serebrier, conductor, Philip Quint, violin. The sound is absolutely breathtaking, in the top demonstration class; in my experience recordings of symphony orchestras don't get any better than this.

2. Sir Arnold Bax, Symphony No. 6, Into the Twilight, Summer Music. Royal Scottish National Orchestra, David Lloyd-Jones, conductor. Marvelous transparency and openness, full frequency range and wide dynamic range; every detail of the colorful orchestration is clearly heard, with never a hint of hardness, harshness, or congestion.

3. Sir Arthur Bliss, A Colour Symphony, Adam Zero Ballet. English Northern Philharmonia, David Lloyd-Jones, conductor. Again, superb sound.

Now, what are your Naxos candidates?

I can honestly say I have never heard a bad CD from the Naxos label. I've heard some whose subjective interpretations I disagree with,but that is my problem.
My personal favorites are the set of 15 string quartets by Haydn and the Chopin Preludes.
Naxos is to the age of the compact disk what the Musical Heritage Society was to the age of the vinyl record,a company that has found its niche and fills it with class and style.
Any and all of the Naxos guitar recordings-- those engineered in Toronto by Norbert Kraft and Bonnie Silver (most of them) are exceptionally naturally sounding, and the young guitarists are uniformly first-rate.
Bach's Sonata for Violin and Harpsichord- both volumes I and II

Arvo Pärt Fratres and Tabula Rasa, the Passion disc the verdict is still out on- but it seems ok

Feeney- Dracula

Elgar- Enigma Variations

Dvorák- Symphonic Poems

Those are a few of my favorite Naxos recordings though most are pleasing- a great value for good classical music.
Naxos 8.550737: Vaughan Williams' Symphony No. 7 "Sinfonia antartica" and Symphony No. 8 got quite a review by HP in Absolute Sound a coupleof years ago.

It's cetainly one of my favorites; the sound of the organ when the "iceberg" section plays is quite stunning and dynamic.

Ditto Elgar Enigma Variations
i think naxos has all great sounding recordings.....not like decca or actually makes me want to listen to my cd's.....and its nice to hear about new artists, and the price is has most discs available for 5.99, if i had to list my fave's ......the list is long so i i will just say BAX symphony # 6 is one of them.........great post by the way texasdave..yeehaa !!!
Here's one: Hildegard von Bingen, Heavenly Revelations, Oxford Camerata, 8.550998.

I'm going to check out the Naxos Pärt Passio.
Calanctus- Thanks for the correction you are of course correct it is Passio- it just seems much more natural in the English language to type Passion(it was second nature!). Thanks for the suggestion, I'm going to check it out along with all of the suggestions made. With Naxos even if you get a lemon it is no huge expense and there's a lot of great ones out there.
The Naxos Jazz catalog is pretty stong too. The Tom Christensen/Gualala cd comes off like an exceptionally tight and well recorded chamber ensemble that does'nt neatly fit into any one category, (oboe, english horn, clarinets, tenor and soprano sax, bass, and percussion). Unlike most records that are this complex and devoid of cliches, i've never seen this one empty a room. The Trio Friedrich-Hebert-Moreno/Surfacing disc also defies easy categorization and suggests that the piano, bass, and drums format has limitless possibilities. Great compositions and playing, these guys hit a pretty rich vein. Any improvisational risks that didn't work sure did'nt end up on the final recording. The Florian Ross Brass Project/Lilacs and Laughter (i know corny title) is also excellent.
If you like opera, check out "Barber of Seville" on Naxos. Good sound and world class performance of this warhorse.
Along with the others mentioned I'd add the Rachmaninoff Symphony No. 1 (8.550806), a very good reading and recording that I listen to often. I'll particularly second the Jason Vieaux recording of guitar works--I heard him in NY Saturday night in concert and he's an exceptional guitarist, and his recording on Naxos (8.553449) is excellent.
Sonata for Piano and Cello in F maj., Op.5, No. 1
Sonata for Piano and Cello in G. min., Op. 5, No.2
(With: Beethoven, Seven Variations on the duet "Bei Mannern;" Sonata for Horn and Piano)

Maria Kliegel (cello), Nina Tichman (piano)
Naxos (2002)
I'd like to thank everyone who has posted. Here is one more suggestion, a recent Naxos release of a small baroque ensemble, delightful music, great clarity and transparency of sound.

Wassenaer, Concerti Armonici. Aradia Ensemble led by Kevin Mallon.
Great Chopin and Brahms piano music by Idel Biret, 1st rank performances by a very talented, but relatively unknown artist. She also plays transcriptions of Berlioz Sym F. and Stravinsky's Firebird and some Rachmaninoff. Excellent at any price. Another lesser known, but equally talented artist is Maria Kliegel, who plays the cello in the Dvorak Concerto and Popper romantic cello showpieces. Highly recommended (by me anyway!). Try some of the Barber discs in the American composer series - excellent performances and sonics.
Tireguy, thanks to you for your recos--I'm getting the Bach sonatas for violin and harpsichord.
Also Texasdave's reco of Wassenaer, Concerti Armonici.

The prices on these sure are right!
I'd like to second Newbee's recommendation of the Barber CDs on Naxos. I have the four Barber orchestral CDs with Marin Alsop conducting the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. All are excellent and have first-class sound. They same is true of the Bax cycle of symphonies and tone poems with David Lloyd-Jones conducting the Royal Scottish NO: all excellent and all with fine sound. (The Bax cycle is being completed this month with the release of Symphony No. 7 and Tintagel.)
I find the Naxos catalog particularly strong in 20th-century British composers: Bax, Britten, Walton, Vaughan Williams, Bliss, Rawsthorne. All of these that I've tried have been good. If you have the 2003 Naxos catalog, it identifies recordings that have received favorable reviews, tells you where the review appeared, etc. I've tried just buying the ones that have several good reviews, and as far as I'm concerned this has worked well, because I've been pleased with every one of these I've bought.
I'm returning to this thread to recommend the recent Naxos CD of Ned Rorem, Three Symphonies. This is an outstanding recording on all counts: music, performance, and sound. Recorded in 2003, to commemorate the composer's 80th birthday, it was nominated for Grammy awards for Best Classical Album, Best Orchestral Performance, and Best Engineered Classical Album, and has received glowing reviews. These three symphonies are succinct and pithy; their musical language is tonal, eclectic, conservative; they are accessible and immensely attractive; their moods range from power and vigor to playfulness and lyricism, and they have passages of considerable eloquence and beauty. The performances leave nothing to be desired, and the sound is state of the art: open and transparent, with wide dynamic range and full frequency range. Thanks and congratulations to Rorem, Serebrier (who wrote the excellent liner notes), the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra, producer/engineer Phil Rowlands, and wonderfully enterprising Naxos for a magnificent CD. At the Naxos price, this one's a no-brainer.
Don't forget the naxos historic series including Bach's Well Tempered clavier 1 & 2 by Edwin Fischer from 1936. Beautifully remastered from 78s.