The record label Naxos is a strictly classical record label. It is huge. It is the Microsoft, the Penguin, the Manchester United, and the Wal-Mart of the classical recording industry all rolled into one. By far and away, Naxos releases more CDs than any other classical record label in the world. No contest. Hands down. Dammit, I'm not even going to Google that to check. (Yes I am). Populist though they may be, what seems to be their ethos is totally laudable: to bring classical music to the masses.

A Naxos CD will cost you £5 in Britain. Perhaps a penny less. And you'll usually get 5 for £20. Wow! you say, that is totally cheap. Yes, that is totally cheap. Totally cheap, but often totally not-very-good. Here's the thing. Because Naxos release CDs with titles like 'Blissful Bach: balm for the bantams' (perhaps I exaggerate a little) they sell alot of records. They package classical music, a daunting field at the best of times, in ways that are attractive and make the area less threatening. Fair enough. This is an important job. With the money they make on these, not only can they afford to buy in expensive artists like Nishizaki to release some records very well (and it is these £5 gems that make Naxos one of my favourite record labels) but they can also afford to release a huge range of music that would otherwise not be available at all. Thus they cater not only to the populists but to the wilfully obscure: a master stroke. Unfortunately, in order to afford this, they sometimes compromise on the quality of the performer. Hence the totally not-very-good-ness. Nonetheless, just looking through my Naxos records I can espy 'Swedish Orchestral Favourites' (I couldn't not: how many can you name me? ) and some great guitar music by some guys called Mompou and Brouwer. I'll be damned if I've ever heard of them, but they're fun, and big kudos to Naxos for releasing it.

On balance, by all means buy Naxos records, as there are many many high-class CDs out there, either packing heavyweight musicians or filling some odd niche. Just be aware that sometimes quality of the recordings does vary wildly. That's all. Thank you.

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