Label blues: Naxos takes over German record label

Label blues: Naxos takes over German record label


norman lebrecht

January 11, 2018

Oehms Classics, a small and rather exquisite German label, is now under the control of Naxos.

Its founder, former DG and BMG high-flier Dieter Oehms, is 76. The new head of Oehms Classics is Matthias Lutzweiler, managing director of Naxos Deutschland, in a quiet takeover not yet announced on either company’s website. The label will remain based for the time being in Munich.

Oehms landmarks include cycles of Beethoven symphonies by Stanislaw Skrowacewski, Mahler by Markus Stenz and no fewer than three Bruckner sets in 15 years by Skrowaceski, Simone Young and Ivor Bolton.

End of an era.





  • John Groves says:

    Good news! Oehms have lots of interesting opera recordings – dare one hope that these might be reissued at a price that I can afford?

    • steven holloway says:

      Good news indeed, John. If I had a fine independent label I wanted to pass to safe hands, the hands I’d choose would be those of Klaus Heymann. It surely says a lot that Dieter Oehms feels the same way. Unlike NL, I detect no blue notes in this.

      • Anna Lebowski says:

        I completely agree! Naxos is one of the last companies around that still seem to care for their music portfolio and their labels. It would have been much worse had Universal Music/Deutsche Grammophon taken over Oehms. Look what has been done to an excellent label like Conifer Classics (once taken over by BMG music): Where is it now? Somewhere in the Sony vaults, maybe, …where it will stay forever. In contrast I guess that Oehms will continue to be very much alive “under the control” of Naxos. And it says a lot that the German Naxos office takes care here and not Hongkong headquarter: They really know what they are doing. Well done, Mr. Oehms!

        • Michael says:

          Naxos also recently took over the Vox catalog, which contains many prized possessions.

          • The View from America says:

            Naxos may well take over the world one day — classical music recording speaking — and it’ll in part because of the fossilized attitudes of the erstwhile “majors.”

            Still, even Naxos is facing the reality of plummeting physical music sales, hardly made up for in streaming music or digital download income. I believe Klaus Heymann himself stated recently that whereas five years ago a goodly number of Naxos new releases could be expected to sell 15,000 units, these days none top 5,000 in unit sales, and the typical release sells more like 1,000 or 1,500.

            (NL may have better figures he can report …)

      • Stuart Morris says:

        You mean the way that they acquired Vox – which was being admirably handled and cultivated by Tod Landor and his colleagues at Musical Concepts – and then summarily buried?

        • Michael says:

          Vox reissues from the 1st half of the 1990s were quite successful as were additional reissues into the early 2000s. It’s been years now since any new product has been issued. Occasionally recordings would get licensed out, which only cheapened the brand. The catalog desperately needed to change hands. Naxos is promising new product soon. I’m curious to see if they will do anything worthwhile.