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I can’t believe that it took me so long to discover the Naxos recording label. This classical label doesn’t merely present new recordings of the same old classical repertoire; instead, Naxos seems to concentrate on music that is less familiar to classical listeners. Thanks to Naxos, I have begun exploring the music of Norwegian composer Geirr Tveitt (1908-1981) and reacquainting myself with the two symphonies of Vasily Kallinikov (1866-1901). The nicest thing about Naxos is that their CDs are budget-priced, with a single-disc recording typically going for $7.99 or $8.99 (American dollars). This affordability makes it easier to explore the unfamiliar; people unwilling to risk $17.99 for a CD of, say, the music of Kurt Atterberg (Swedish composer, 1887-1974) might decide to explore the vast wealth of underheard music that is out there, rather than go with something safe like the umpteenth recording of Holst’s The Planets or yet another disc of Wagner excerpts. The recordings also tend to be by lesser-known orchestras and performers, such as the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine or (if I may indulge a bit of local pride) the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra.

The Naxos website is also well-done, containing a wealth of information about classical composers (with bios and Naxos discographies), information about performers, and commentary on the contemporary classical music scene. There is also a nice Learning Zone, containing a lot of helpful advice to persons wishing to begin exploring the world of classical music.

(Some stores have separate displays exclusively for Naxos recordings; others simply file them in with the other labels under the appropriate composer headings.)

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