Amazing Stuff: Klaus Heymann of Naxos Page 2
Tellig: The sound of many recent Naxos discs is of demonstration quality. What's behind the improvement?
Heymann: A number of things. We now have our own mastering and production studio in London: K&A Productions. We are co-owners, actually. K is for Klaus, and A is for Andrew Walton, my partner in the studio.
We are able to record in better venues. Venue costs have come down because the major record labels are no longer occupying the spaces. And we are able to record with a wider range of top-class producers and engineers—the same people who record for labels such as Chandos, Hyperion, EMI, and so on. Plus, we have some of the finest people in our studio in London.
Tellig: Are all Naxos releases edited there?
Heymann: Everything is sent there for a listen, and sometimes a little doctoring. We do all our guitar recordings in Canada—technically and musically, they are to a very high standard. We record a lot of chamber music in Hungary, and send it to London for final approval. Moscow has its own recording team. And so on.
Tellig: One of your best-sounding new releases is the Rachmaninoff Symphony 1 with Alexander Anissimov and the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland. [See "Sam's Personal Naxos Recommendations" sidebar.] How does a Russian conductor end up recording with an Irish orchestra?
Heymann: Anissimov has been Principal Conductor of the National Symphony of Ireland since 1994. We have recorded him in Moscow, too. The Irish orchestra plays a lot of Russian music.
Tellig: One of the most widely acclaimed Naxos series is the Bruckner symphony cycle with Georg Tintner. Any plans for more Tintner recordings?
Heymann: Mr. Tintner has become a very busy man—too busy to record.
Tellig: Such a fine conductor—how come we never heard of him before?
Heymann: He is one of the best conductors of the older generation. He has conducted in Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. But he didn't have much of a career. He's not a smooth, slick, fast-talking, fund-raising conductor. He has his own mind. But he is a very charming man and a wonderful musician. [Sadly, a few days after this conversation, Mr. Tintner passed away at the age of 82.—ST]
Tellig: Are there any conductors today whose recordings sell briskly?
Heymann: I'm not sure there ever were many conductors whose recordings always sold—von Karajan, certainly. Bernstein. A few others.
Tellig: Is the situation with orchestras and conductors better or worse now?
Heymann: If you mean quality, better—much better than 20 or even 10 years ago. Young people graduating from music conservatories today are fabulously gifted, technically very competent—so much so that it scares the wits out of musicians who have been in orchestras for 10 or 20 years.
I was talking with a conductor in Nancy—that's a small city in France, the administrative capital of Lorraine. The population there is about 100,000. The director of the regional orchestra there told me that when he has an open position, he has 50 to 70 applicants, all superb, all wonderful players. And this is a provincial French orchestra.
Conductors are more competent, too—a lot more so than conductors of 50 years ago. They are well schooled, and they all have access to the recorded legacy. They all listen to records.
Tellig: But they all sound the same.