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Chandos Records are saddened to announce the death of its founder Brian Couzens


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dhibbard
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« on: May 07, 2015, 05:59:20 pm »

Can't remember if someone had posted this before from the Chandos website:


Chandos Records are saddened to announce the death of its founder Brian Couzens.
 He passed away peacefully on the morning of 17th April 2015 following a short illness.
 He was 82.

Hope there is a succession plan so the company can continue to live on!
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dhibbard
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« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2015, 10:28:57 pm »


Brian Couzens, founder of Chandos, has died
Martin Cullingford Fri 17th April 2015
An inspired champion of both major artists and industry developments
Brian Couzens, founder of Chandos Records, who died this morning

Brian Couzens, founder of Chandos Records, who died this morning

Chandos Records is today one of the leading independent classical music labels – not just in Britain, but internationally - and that is the finest tribute that can be paid to its founder, Brian Couzens, who died this morning following a short illness.

The Colchester-based record label was founded in 1979, and as it grew, Couzen's instincts in both the musical and business dimensions of running a label proved to be inspired (and boldly followed). This is no better illustrated than when, back in 1986, he was visited by two representatives of the Oslo Philharmonic who asked whether he'd be interested in recording them: he took away a cassette of their recent performance of Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony, and promptly set about working with them. The conductor was the then far from household name Mariss Jansons. Other conductors whose extensive recordings for Chandos remain leading choices in the catalogue include Neeme Järvi and Richard Hickox, while artists including Lydia Mordkovitch, Louis Lortie, the Borodin Trio and Raphael Wallfisch were all nurtured by Chandos to the enrichment of listeners then and now.

From the perspective of the industry's development, Brian’s instincts made Chandos an 'early adopter' of digital recording techniques and one of the first independents to sign up to CD, way back in 1983. This Chandos spirit is continued today under the leadership of Brian's son Ralph by the label's embracing of downloading as a way of delivering the highest quality sound files to the widest possible audiences, and by the support of some of today's most impressive artists, including such musicians as conductors Edward Gardner, Sir Andrew Davis and Gianandrea Noseda, pianist Jean-Efflam Bavouzet and violinists James Ehnes and Jennifer Pike.

http://www.gramophone.co.uk/classical-music-news/brian-couzens-founder-of-chandos-has-died?pmtx=recommended&utm_expid=32540977-5.-DEFmKXoQdmXwfDwHzJRUQ.2&utm_referrer=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com%2Furl%3Fsa%3Dt%26rct%3Dj%26q%3D%26esrc%3Ds%26source%3Dweb%26cd%3D1%26ved%3D0CB8QFjAA%26url%3Dhttp%253A%252F%252Fwww.gramophone.co.uk%252Fclassical-music-news%252Fbrian-couzens-founder-of-chandos-has-died%26ei%3D4NhLVdfSBcLQsAX_loHQCw%26usg%3DAFQjCNFI339wk60Ij3JJB7xAKSZgIwTLpg%26bvm%3Dbv.92765956%2Cd.b2w
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dhibbard
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« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2015, 10:31:59 pm »

 Brian Couzens obituary
Founder of Chandos Records whose enthusiasm for the technique of audio recording made the classical label a digital pioneer

 
The business of recording classical music is not short of people who blend fiery enthusiasm with musicality. But even within that group Brian Couzens, who has died aged 82, stood out, winning the admiration of rivals and record collectors worldwide. After founding Chandos Records (named after a BBC club or a favourite pub in Covent Garden – his explanation varied) in 1979, he steered the label through some of the recording industry’s most turbulent times, in the process championing neglected British composers, and regularly winning international awards for audio quality as well as musical excellence.

Son of Vera and William, who worked in engine research for Ford, Couzens was born in Southend-on-Sea, Essex. As a schoolboy, he was fascinated by recording technology and would sit in on professional recording sessions at weekends. He was also a self-taught trombonist, playing in dance bands – and in an RAF band during his national service. Later Couzens arranged dance music for the BBC and EMI, in the early 1960s coming to the attention of the composer Ron Goodwin, whose music was in demand for Britain’s then booming film industry. “He was getting into a state with the amount of work he was getting,” Couzens recalled in an interview with Music Web International. “He simply couldn’t handle it all. He gave me a chance to orchestrate a film score and he was very happy with the results.”

The two worked together for 10 years on classic films such as 633 Squadron (1964), Those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines (1965) and Where Eagles Dare (1968). Couzens was also composing, but the lure of recording, then a computer-less process with an end product of black vinyl LPs, prevailed. In 1970 he founded Chandos Productions and became a freelance record producer and engineer, principally for RCA’s UK classical label. He persuaded his son, Ralph, to leave school at 16 to join the business.

When RCA closed its London operation in 1979, Couzens immediately set up Chandos Records. Geoffrey Simon, who conducted Chandos’s first recording – of Ernest Bloch’s Sacred Service – recalled: “Brian was already known as an engineer-producer with a really magnificent ear – he could get a sound nobody else could get.”

But Chandos made its mark championing British music and giving early recording opportunities to artists who went on to stardom. One example of both was Richard Hickox, whose partnership with the label began with him conducting Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius in 1988, and ended after 280 recordings, five Gramophone awards and a Grammy with his sudden death in 2008. Those 20 years saw him rescue from neglect works by British composers ranging from William Alwyn and Malcolm Arnold to Edmund Rubbra and Arthur Sullivan.

A shorter but equally spectacular partnership saw Chandos release in 1984 an album of Elgar chamber works with the 28-year-old violinist Nigel Kennedy and the pianist Peter Pettinger. The reviews were so enthusiastic that Kennedy was snapped up by EMI.

Couzens continued to oversee generations of rising stars, including the King’s Singers, the violinist Lydia Mordkovitch, the conductors Mariss Jansons and Alexander Gibson, and the cellist Raphael Wallfisch. Chandos also took up a cause championed – and funded – by the philanthropist Sir Peter Moores, recording operas sung in English translations. Somewhat to Couzens’ surprise, the series was a solid seller, even in France and Germany.

The performances won plaudits and prizes but the label’s consistent distinction was audio quality – it almost held a monopoly on Gramophone magazine’s engineering award until it was dropped in 1997. Couzens lamented at the time: “Someone’s experience of listening to a recording is not just the performance but also the sound.”

His enthusiasm for the nuts and bolt of recording made Chandos a digital pioneer, releasing its first CD in 1983, in 2005 becoming the first classical label to offer downloads, and subsequently setting up a retail website, The Classical Shop, which today offers nearly two million tracks from more than 270 labels.

Both father and son have admitted an affection for what they regarded as the warmer sound of analogue recordings from the vinyl era, but they both insisted: “It is how you record it in the first place that counts.”

Chandos stopped distributing other labels in 2005 and moved from its base in Colchester to smaller premises nearby, cutting staff from 50 to 14, but a loyal customer base cushioned it from a steep and continuing decline in sales that hit other labels hard.

In 2004 Couzens handed over day-to-day production duties to his son, becoming chairman and senior producer.

Couzens was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of East Anglia in 2007 and a Gramophone special achievement award in 2010. On Chandos’s 30th anniversary he reflected: “I have had the opportunity to work with some wonderful artists, and my philosophy has always been to produce beautiful recordings that people wanted to hear.”

He is survived by his second wife, Debbie (nee Frogel), whom he married in 2006; and by the three sons, Ralph, Mark and Philip, and daughter, Isabella, from his first marriage, to Isle (nee Hauguth), who died in 2005.

• Brian Couzens, recording engineer and producer, born 17 January 1933; died 17 April 2015


http://www.theguardian.com/music/2015/apr/28/brian-couzens
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