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Chandos Records arose from a band music publisher Chandos Music, founded in 1963, and Chandos Productions, a record production company which produced LPs for Classics for Pleasure, and, especially, RCA's work in the UK. Its first record was Bloch's Sacred Service (ABR1001). Important early recordings were made with Mariss Jansons, Nigel Kennedy and the King's Singers – before they moved to bigger contracts with EMI.
In 2005, Chandos Records was the first classical label to offer mp3s on its website. They now run The Classical Shop with over 45 labels on offer, including Naxos, LSO Live, Coro, Avie, Onyx and many rarer European labels, which are not available in physical format in the UK.
The current managing director of Chandos Records is Ralph Couzens, son of Brian Couzens.
The name "Chandos" refers to James Brydges, the first Duke of Chandos (1674-1744), at whose Palladian-style house, Cannons, Handel was engaged as a composer-in-residence for approximately a year (1717-1718). In addition to the eleven "Chandos" anthems, Handel also wrote other works, including Acis and Galatea, at Cannons. The company originally had its office in Chandos House, Chandos Place, London SW1, the street name derived from the Duke.
The Chandos catalogue contains a range of classical music - for example, much orchestral, choral and chamber music by such lesser-known British composers as Herbert Howells, Gerald Finzi, Charles Villiers Stanford and Arnold Bax, conducted by eminent conductors including Richard Hickox, Gianandrea Noseda, Neeme Järvi and Vernon Handley. They also specialise in early music, on their label Chaconne, with performances by artists such as the Purcell Quartet, Collegium Musicum 90 and Sophie Yates. Chandos is also known for its Movies series, preserving previously lost film scores. In 1990 they launched the Opera in English label, in association with the Peter Moores Foundation, which has resulted in over 80 recordings.
- Complete symphonies of Alwyn, Vaughan Williams, Mahler, Arnold, Shostakovich, Bax
- Tone poems of Liszt
- Film Music series includes: Arnold, Shostakovich, Vaughan Willams, Bax, Korngold, Coates, Addinsell, Addison
Recordings released by Chandos have won many awards including 'Gramophone Record of the Year' for Vaughan Williams's A London Symphony with the London Symphony Orchestra, and 'Gramophone Choral Recording of the Year' for Hummel Masses. In 2008 they received two Grammys for 'Best Opera Recording' and 'Best Engineered Classical Album'.
Soloists and conductors who have recorded for the label include Sir Charles Mackerras, Rebecca Evans, Julian Lloyd Webber, Sir Thomas Allen, Alan Opie, Tasmin Little, Bruce Ford, Barry Banks, Christine Brewer, Lesley Garrett, Horacio Gutiérrez, Neeme Jarvi, and Simon Keenlyside.
They have an exclusive recording partnership with the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra, conductor Richard Hickox (many times Gramophone winner with Chandos recordings) and pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet.
- Cutts P. For the record : Steering clear of the mainstream. Gramophone, October 1999, p16. http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/October%201999/16/786570/
- Jolly J. Chandos at 10. Gramophone, May 1989, p12. http://www.gramophone.net/Issue/Page/May%201989/12/789500/CHANDOS+AT+10+lig
- Anderson C. Thirty years of Chandos. Ralph and Brian Couzens talk about the history of their company. Classic Record Collector, Winter 2008, 39-42.