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Audio News for January 4, 2013

David Manley Dies; New Book on Naxos Label; ECM’s CDs Know That Ears Have Eyes

Published on January 4, 2013

David Manley Dies – The founder of VTL, the VTL record label and Manley Laboratories died at age 73 of a heart attack last week at his home in France. He leaves behind a legacy with his son Luke Manley and daughter-in-law Beatrice Lam running VTL and his fifth wife, EveAnna Manley, running Manley Labs. His VITaL record label now survives in Italy under the name Fone.

New Book on Naxos Label – Nicolas Soames new 450-page Piatkus Press book is titled The Story of Naxos: The Extraordinary Story of the Independent Label That Changed Classical Recording Forever. Producer and writer Soames had access to the smallest details of the growth of the bargain-priced Hong Kong-based label, which is now the leading independent classical record label and one of the two largest-selling classical labels in the world. (The other is Universal, and the largest music retailer in the world is Apple’s iTunes Store.) CEO Klaus Heymann is a remarkable maverick innovator who has believed in the pent-up consumer desire for classical music. His model has given thousands of non-Establishment musicians the inspiration and exposure they need, though he has done it without any residuals to the performers. Meanwhile the major record labels have nearly given up all classical recording. The book covers business acumen, personal reminiscence and technological evolution. (He tried both DVD-A and SACD, and is now releasing a few audio-only Blu-rays, plus stressing downloads.) Over the next quarter-century, Heymann’s vision is for Naxos to be “a service provider for classical recording.” His wider purpose “is to enable recordings to happen, whether on Naxos or the artist’s own label,” and he has certainly done that.

ECM’s CDs Know That Ears Have Eyes – That was from a suggestion by Gertrude Stein, and fits perfectly the thought-provoking art purveyed by in many ways the equivalent in the jazz world of Klaus Heymann – Manfred Eicher – who founded the ECM label in 1969. ECM, headquartered in Munich, has had several public exhibits in Europe of its absorbing art photography, abstract paintings, and graphic design. The current one is at the Haus der Kunst Museum in Munich and is designed to show the fundamental connections the unique label makes between “artistic disciplines in music, film, theater, graphic design, photography and contemporary art.”  Manfred is also ECM’s de facto art director. He says “It’s a very personal decision…I’m going for aesthetic connotation and it doesn’t take more than a week. It’s like a recording mix. I want to get it done.”  Sometimes the recording artists become involved themselves: one album used the musician’s own photography, and Keith Jarrett recently provided the first impulse for the artwork of his latest album, Sleeper. There have been two thick books published on ECM’s visual language.

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