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Neu Records, on CD because there's no alternative

On 14 June the CD “Blanc” was presented at the Palau de la Música Catalana, the first release from the new Catalan label Neu Records, containing the collected choral works of the composer Bernat Vivancos. This double CD was produced in collaboration with Catalunya Música and the ICIC, and performed by the Latvian Radio Choir conducted by Sigvards Klava. Thee are many things about this new project that we like: To begin with, in my opinion, the excellent choice of material for the first recording in the collection, Blanc, which contains a work of extraordinary delicacy and high quality, in a style reminiscent of Arvo Pärt, James McMillan and Olivier Messiaen, and which definitely proves that Spanish contemporary works are at the forefront of the current European scene. Contemplative, transcendent music which, in the words of Norwegian composer Lasse Thoresen, "is like a city of angels: blissful sounds populated by saintly spirits hiding between the notes as birds in a tree." He couldn’t have put it better. We also like this label’s bold commitment to Catalan contemporary music, a commitment they themselves mention in their own presentation: “Neu Records is a newly created independent label devoted to making recordings of contemporary music in high definition surround format, and also to providing a platform for interaction between Catalan and international performers and composers at the highest level.”
Listening to CDs recorded by Neu Records is different to going to a concert, because it they place the listeners at the heart of the sound experience.
We note their special interest in the exploration and development of new formats and higher sound quality beyond the conventional CD or mp3, employing high-quality Dolby Digital Surround 5.1 (24bits/96kHz). They explain that in contrast to the concept of the classical concert, i.e. the stage in front of the audience, there is no particular reason why contemporary music concerts should respect this tradition in terms of spatial layout, and therefore they put the listener on the centre stage among the musicians. Listening to CDs recorded by Neu Records is different to going to a concert, because it they place the listeners at the heart of the sound experience. However, what stands out most – and what I personally think it is their biggest selling point – is the new approach to the recording project beyond the sale of hardware. Unlike most classical music labels, their web takes a rather different approach, not so focused on the cold promotion of the CD and subsequent redirection to third-party outlets, real or online, but open to the promotion of extra materials (scores) and additional information, and purchase in a choice of different quality formats, one of which is the CD format itself. This new approach, quite innovative in the field of classical music labels in Spain, suggests that for them the sale of compact discs is no longer the main and sole objective. It even seems as if they were only still doing so because they have no choice. Neu Records is, then, a project for the 21st century, high-quality, sophisticated, bold, innovative, and made in Catalonia. We wish the company the best of luck in this venture.