Argo Records was a record label founded by Harley Usill and Cyril Clarke in 1951 with the intention of recording "British music played by British artists", but it became a company specialising in spoken word and other non-commercial material. Argo's first issue, Music from Bali, was dedicated to the Indonesian gamelan (ensemble) recorded at the Winter Garden Theatre, London. The catalogue eventually ran to 1,000 items. In 1953, Usill was introduced to Indian musician Deben Bhattacharya, who was responsible for field recordings of traditional music in India. Bhattacharya had been frustrated by the absence of recordings he could use for his BBC Radio broadcasts. Around the same time, Walter Harris recorded an amateur Brazilian choir in Rio de Janeiro. Such recordings as these appeared in the labels "Living Traditions" series. Taking advantage of the capacity of the longer playing time of LP records, Argo embarked on recording the complete works of William Shakespeare. Cambridge University's Marlowe Players participated in the series, which was the responsibility of Dadie Rylands, a fellow at King's College, Cambridge. Recording began in 1957 and was completed by 1964. Initially professional actors had been reluctant to work for the project, but in time Judi Dench, Derek Jacobi and Prunella Scales participated. "The Poet Speaks" series consisted of contemporary poets reading their work. It included Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath, and Anthony Thwaite. In 1954, the company recorded the Festival of Lessons and Carols (Christmas) service at King's College, Cambridge, a venue where the acoustics had previously defeated the abilities of engineers at other companies. A series of the masses of Joseph Haydn, initially recorded at the same venue, commenced in 1960, though after the first release with the London Symphony Orchestra, later recordings were made with the Choir of St John's College, Cambridge and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields under George Guest. One of their biggest sellers was Under Milk Wood featuring Richard Burton in the BBC production of Dylan Thomas' radio drama. (Rondo DB)

Parent label Universal Music Group
Wikipedia Argo_Records_(UK)
Country United Kingdom
Started 1951