Indie Classical Label Chandos Is Sold — Not To Naxos, But To Its Owner


The British label Chandos Records, well known to Limelight readers for its four decades of classical music recordings, has been acquired by Naxos Music Group founder Klaus Heymann.

Chandos will continue to release recordings and worldwide distribution will be handled by Naxos. Chandos managing director Ralph Couzens, son of the label’s founder Brian Couzens, retains his role and the company’s schedule of upcoming recordings remain unchanged.

The announcement comes just 12 months after another UK independent classical label, Hyperion, was bought out by the German conglomerate Universal Music Group (UMG). The Swedish label BIS, also renowned for its classical and art music releases, was acquired by Apple Inc. in 2023.

 

In a press statement, Couzens wrote: “It is hard to remember a more vibrant time for Chandos Records. We are lucky to work with a group of artists whose dedication, enthusiasm, skill and imagination result in music making of the highest order. Translating this artistry to the recorded medium with our dedicated team of in-house engineers and producers is not only a privilege – it really is the backbone of Chandos Records.”

“The continuation of these relationships, the Chandos brand and all it stands for is so important to me, continuing what my father started 45 years ago. I’m delighted that after our very first meeting I found that Klaus Heymann, like me, had such a passion for classical music and its recorded legacy – a passion that I have increasingly felt is missing within our industry.”

“Going forward I really believe the synergy between Chandos and Klaus’ team will develop a new era in Classical recording. I’m thrilled that the Chandos artist roster, A&R policy, engineering and production process will remain unchanged, protecting the future of the Chandos brand for years to come.”

Heymann said: “I decided to acquire Chandos personally to give Ralph the certainty that the label will remain independent long-term. Ralph Couzens has successfully led Chandos for the last 20 years and I am grateful to him for agreeing to continue running the company which is essential for maintaining its image and status, especially when it comes to A&R policy. The Naxos Group will provide distribution and certain administrative services to Chandos allowing the company to focus on its core mission. And I will do my best to keep the company among the leading classical labels in the world.”

Founded in 1979, Chandos Records has been one of the leading classical music record labels for four decades, admired for its releases of neglected musical gems and Ralph Couzens’ focus on sound quality (a 2022 Limelight review praised its Acardia Quartet release of music by Mieczysław Weinberg for its “exemplary warmth and clarity”). Chandos also pioneered the release of ‘series’ surveys of composers including Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky, Parry, Walton and Grainger and boasts a catalogue of more than 3000 recordings.

In the Chandos stable at present are artists such as Sir Andrew Davis, Neeme Järvi, Dame Sarah Connolly, Doric String Quartet, Brodsky Quartet, Jennifer Pike, Tasmin Little and Sinfonia of London.

Founded in 1987, Naxos has evolved from budget label to one of the leading leading classical music groups. Based in Hong Kong with distribution and marketing subsidiaries in 15 countries worldwide, the group distributes its Naxos record label, Naxos AudioBooks and a number other labels.

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