This catalog simultaneously lists and celebrates the achievements of Phaedra in the twenty years of its existence. At first blush publishing just over one hundred CDs in twenty years time may not look impressive. But it is very impressive, as you will see once you know the whys and wherefores of Phaedra. It is the purpose of this introduction to tell you about them.
In its central series, “In Flanders’ Fields”, Phaedra offers a cross-section of this huge and rich treasury. Its 76 CDs to date feature over one hundred Flemish (and Belgian) composers, with works ranging from massive choral works with soloists and orchestra over symphonies and concertos to chamber music, songs and instrumental solo works. Most of these are world premiere recordings. There is a preponderance of solo pieces and music for small ensembles, which is understandable, given Phaedra’s limited financial means. But don’t all good musicians tell us that playing chamber music is the highest form of music making?
Musicians! An almost equally important purpose of Phaedra is to promote Flemish performing artists. It records them, not only in the series “In Flanders’ Fields”, but also in its other series, “Phaedra Classics”, where they get to shine in works from the great repertoire. Any open-minded listener who compares these performances with some wellknown ones by big names published by major labels will readily acknowledge that they are often as good as and now and then even better than those.
Which brings us to the issue of quality. Since Phaedra publishes mainly works by unknowns and since its advertising budget is extremely limited, it can have but one selling-point: uality. Wisely, Phaedra does not stint on that. I have already praised the quality of the works it publishes and of the artists that perform them. But Phaedra also uses the most modern and advanced technology, both for recording and for digitalizing older works—Phaedra occasionally publishes older studio recordings, made mainly by the Flemish radio. It hires highly qualified technicians and for its own recordings it always rents venues that are considered most appropriate for the music to be recorded. Its artistic supervisors are mostly fine musicians themselves. Finally, the booklets that come with the CDs are beautiful as well as informative—Phaedra has often gone so far as to commission paintings specially for its covers.