Established with the aim of recording the best of contemporary British music to the highest artistic and technical standards, NMC Recordings was founded in 1988 with funding from the Holst Foundation and assistance from the Society for the Promotion of New Music. Following the success of two pilot releases - Jonathan Harvey's Bhakti, and a disc of contemporary piano music performed by Michael Finnissy - NMC became an independent charitable company (registered charity no. 328052); it has since established itself as "Britain's most important producer of CDs of interesting new or recent and neglected work from this country" (The Sunday Times).
NMC's catalogue currently consists of over 100 titles, released to considerable critical acclaim: this includes Gramophone Awards in 1994, for Robin Holloway's Second Concerto for Orchestra and 1998, for NMC's first venture into opera - the world premiere recording of The Mask of Orpheus by Sir Harrison Birtwistle. Numerous releases have also been short-listed for awards. Composers represented on the label range from established voices - James Dillon, Alexander Goehr, Howard Skempton, Mark-Anthony Turnage and Judith Weir - to a younger generation including Richard Ayres, Joe Cutler and Tansy Davies. NMC's range of artists likewise covers both those long established in the field of new music - such as the BBC Symphony Orchestra, the London Sinfonietta or the Nash Ensemble - and exciting new voices such as vocal ensemble EXAUDI or the Trio Fibonacci.
While NMC's guiding principle has always been the recording of music by living British composers, the Archive Series was established in 1996 to release earlier recordings of historic interest - such as those of Britten's Les Illuminations and Sinfonia da Requiem made in 1941. It was in this series that NMC released Anthony Payne's 'elaboration' of Elgar's Symphony No.3, left in sketch form on the composer's death in 1934, along with a companion recording of the sketches themselves accompanied by a commentary by Anthony Payne. Nominated for Gramophone's Orchestral Award, Elgar/Payne's Symphony No.3 has become NMC's best-selling recording. The most recent addition to the Archive series was Remembering Tippett, released to mark the composer's centenary in January 2005 and featuring premiere 1940s recordings of Tippett's music, not previously heard on LP or CD.
NMC's policy has always been one of non-deletion: with that in mind, 2003 saw the launch of Ancora, a major new mid-price series of British contemporary recordings reissued from labels including Collins Classics and Unicorn-Kanchana, and funded by Arts Council England. The series has drawn praise from may quarters; the BBC Music Magazine wrote that "NMC's Ancora series is to be welcomed without reservation." Already featuring works by composers including John Casken, Alexander Goehr, Robin Holloway, Thea Musgrave, Nigel Osborne, Hugh Wood, Nicholas Maw, Robert Simpson, Simon Bainbridge and Judith Weir, forthcoming titles will include works by David Blake and Anthony Payne.
Highlights of the 2006 release schedule include the landmark release of Brian Ferneyhough's opera Shadowtime (NMC D123), in collaboration with ENO and BBC Radio 3; the first disc devoted to rising young Scottish composer Stuart MacRae (NMC D115) featuring violinist Christian Tetzlaff and the BBC Scottish SO conducted by Ilan Volkov; Book of Hours, Julian Anderson's major Birmingham commissions for the CBSO and BCMG (NMC D121); and a disc to mark the centenary of Elisabeth Lutyens (NMC D124).
'NMC has yet again put us in its debt by recording important music which none of the 'major' labels seem to have time for.' - International Record Review
'The sainted British music label' - The Sunday Times