Saturday, 17 March 2018

The Naxos Company, and Nazrin Rashidova

The Naxos company started in 1987 in Hong Kong at the inspiration of Klaus Heymann, a German resident in Hong Kong. Later, his Japanese wife, Takako Nishizaki, a violinist, also took part in the company (and was probably one reason why Naxos has always had a prominent violin repertoire). For the past 31 years, during which most rivals and competitors have disappeared as organised recording companies, Naxos has continued its policy of low prices, repertoire that avoids the over-recorded, artists and instrumental groups that are not on the normal All Star circuit, and never (or rarely) deleting any issues. Naxos explores the 80 percent of the classical music repertoire that the big commercial enterprises rarely touch, and it often achieves excellent artistic results with its ranks of “B list” artists and orchestras. In classical music, being a well-known name is not always a guarantee of first-rate quality (and we all remember the revelation that Britain's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra was caught out giving concerts simultaneously in two different cities; the RPO name had become a mere franchise operation).

The latest release from Naxos typifies the company, with Nazrin Rashidova playing Volume 2 of her planned traversal of the 24 études-caprices opus 64 by Emile Sauret (all six of the new études on the CD are labelled as “world première recordings”.) Music of a specialist interest maybe, but well worth recording and listening to. For this second volume Rashidova puts aside her modern British violin that sounded so well in Volume 1 and plays on a Stradivarius from 1685. The Strad also sounds well, with a good tone on the lower strings. There is some wonderful violin playing on this CD. In the liner notes, Rashidova writes extensively about the quality of the "Sauret" Strad. Finally, as usual with the good-quality Naxos, liner notes (by Rashidova) are excellent and, although Rashidova is a fine-looking woman, the front cover quite rightly gives Emile Sauret star billing in a large typeface, with a photo of the composer dominating half of the front. A bit more class at Naxos compared with the likes of DG, Decca and Warner.

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