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Naxos Record Label to Expand DSO's Expanding Rep Internationally

by Jerome Weeks 15 Feb 2012 1:50 PM

The DSO’s last record distribution deal ended in 2006. Since then, if you wanted a recording of the DSO with conductor van Zweden, you had a choice of two CDs on Amazon. That’s it. And no downloads. That’s going to change April 1.


Conductor Jaap van Zweden has gained a national reputation with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra. But recordings of his work with the DSO have had frustratingly limited distribution. Which is why KERA’s Jerome Weeks reports that the orchestra’s new deal is a big deal.

  • KERA radio report:
  • Expanded online report:

The Dallas Symphony Orchestra announced today that it has signed a new distribution contract with the major classical record label, Naxos. Currently, if people wish to hear the symphony with van Zweden on a CD or a download, their only recourse has been two CDs for sale on Amazon in America. Otherwise, they’d have to come to the Meyerson in person to buy the CDs.

Of course, the symphony’s recordings with its previous music directors are available on various platforms under a bewildering array of labels (RCA, Telarc, EMI, ProArte, Dorian, Delos and Hyperion). But none of the DSO’s work with van Zweden has been available for download.  And none of that work has been available in any form internationally.

Conductor van Zweden says that increasingly, people in other cities have heard of the Dallas Symphony and his work here. But the DSO has not been able to capitalize on its growing reputation.

Van Zweden: “If I conduct in Europe or Chicago or like last week in Boston, and they ask for the records of me and the Dallas Symphony, I have to say, ‘Well, they’re not out yet.’ “

Naxos is one of the two largest-selling classical labels in the world; it’s the largest independent classical label (it’s owned by Hong Kong-based German businessman, Klaus Heymann and not by a parent media conglomerate. Coincidentally, van Zweden recently was appointed music director of the Hong Kong Philharmonic).

In addition to internet downloads, the DSO will gain access to markets in Europe and Asia, where music stores continue to play a major role. Naxos will start by distributing three recordings on the orchestra’s own label, DSO Live — two Beethoven symphonies, two Tchaikovsky symphonies and Tchaikovsky’s Capriccio Italien and Mozartiana Suite. A fourth recording will be released later this month: Composer Steven Stucky’s August 4,1964, the oratorio about Lyndon Johnson that the DSO commissioned and premiered in 2008. And this week, the DSO is performing Tchaikovsky’s 6th Symphony at the Meyerson — it’s being recorded for release later this year.

Whether as CDs or downloads, classical recordings rarely turn a profit these days. But van Zweden says it’s not about the money.

Van Zweden: “If you’re a fantastic orchestra but invisible on records, then nobody knows this. And so I’m very delighted that Naxos is willing to bring this out and even work with us in the future.”

The press release follows, naturally:

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Announces International Distribution Partnership with Naxos

Recordings by Jaap van Zweden and the DSO available via download for first time

DALLAS, TX (February 15, 2012)-  Dallas Symphony recordings on its DSO Live label will soon be available around the world for purchase and downloading through a new agreement with Naxos, one of the world’s largest distributors of classical recordings, Dallas Symphony Orchestra Interim President and CEO David Hyslop announced today.

The distribution partnership begins its three-year term April 1, 2012. The agreement covers all of the recordings with Music Director Jaap van Zweden that have been released or are scheduled for release on the DSO Live label during the contract.

“This agreement will put our superlative recordings in the international market place,” Hyslop said. “Naxos is a pipeline to vendors throughout North, Central and South America, in Europe, Asia, Australia and New Zealand. This partnership will also allow music lovers around the globe to download Dallas Symphony recordings.”

“Naxos’ interest in the Dallas Symphony is proof of the tremendous artistic growth of this orchestra,” van Zweden said. “This international exposure will reflect well not only on the musicians of the Dallas Symphony, but on the city itself as a major cultural center. We are proud to serve as cultural ambassadors for Dallas through this new partnership.”

The recordings to be distributed initially include Beethoven’s Fifth and Seventh Symphonies; Tchaikovsky’s Fourth and Fifth Symphonies; Capriccio Italien and Mozartiana Suite; and Steven Stucky’s August 4, 1964, an acclaimed work for soloists, chorus and orchestra about the Presidency of Lyndon Baines Johnson. The Stucky is scheduled for release in late February, 2012. Future recording projects will include Tchaikovsky’s Sixth Symphony and Rococo Variations, which will be recorded live at concerts in February and May of this year.

“We are delighted to add the Dallas Symphony’s recordings under Jaap van Zweden to our distribution family,” said Jim Selby, CEO of Naxos of America. “This is a very fine orchestra, and its exciting recordings deserve to be heard by music lovers all over the globe.”

Celebrating 25 years in 2012, Naxos has evolved from its beginnings as a budget label to a leading classical music group. Headquartered in Hong Kong with distribution and marketing subsidiaries in 15 countries, the group distributes its Naxos, Naxos AudioBook and Marco Polo labels, while providing distribution and licensing services to more than 200 independent and major CD and DVD labels. The Naxos group is also an industry leader in music education, boasting a wide range of physical and digital education products. Operating across six platforms, the Naxos Group’s digital products include the Naxos Music Library, Naxos Spoken Word Library, Naxos Video Library subscription service, and the ClassicsOnline download platform. For more information, visit