Naxos Rights International, the Hong Kong-based record company that gave the majors a run for their money with cut-price classical and jazz recordings in the 1990s, has found yet another way of bringing music to the masses. It started when Klaus Heymann, Naxos' German-born owner, recorded all the national anthems of the world 10 years ago. Naxos released a six-CD set of 204 anthems on its Marco Polo label, recorded and conducted by prolific Canadian composer Peter Breiner and performed by the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra in Slovakia. Early this year, the recordings came to the attention of Olympic organisers who wanted a Greek orchestra to re-record the anthems. Heymann persuaded them to use his recordings instead. 'The Olympic anthems were special, short versions,' Heymann says, in his Cyberport office. 'Most national anthems range in length from one minute to five-and-a-half minutes. They didn't want the medal winners standing for five minutes while the full anthem was played. We had to shorten them to no more than 80 seconds.' Each country had to approve the re-recorded version and they did - except Indonesia, which he says insisted its anthem be played in full. Of the anthems originally recorded by Naxos, about 100 were included in the final Olympic recordings. The rest were no longer up to date. 'Breiner had to orchestrate and change about 100 of the anthems,' says Heymann. 'Only 60 of the 204 were actually heard by the gold-medal winning countries, but as the teams arrived in the Olympic village, they were [each] serenaded with their anthem.' Heymann says he told Timothy Fok Tsun-ting, head of the National Olympic Committee in Hong Kong, at a function before the Olympics: ''You'll be very successful at the Olympics: Hong Kong will be represented at every gold medal ceremony.' At the time, he didn't understand what I meant. But now he does.' Breiner's work will be available in November, when Naxos releases a seven-CD series of all the world's national anthems. A lifelong classical music lover, Heymann came to Hong Kong in 1967 to set up an office for an American newspaper. After two years, the tall, white-haired German set up an electronics company. He also organised classical music concerts, which led to classical record distribution and then to Naxos. Naxos also has an active audio-books arm. 'We often forget that, until the late 19th century, it was common for people to listen to someone reading stories,' says Nicolas Soames, co-owner of Naxos AudioBooks, which celebrates its 10th anniversary, after producing more than 250 works of classic literature with classical music, featuring stars such as Kenneth Branagh, Paul Schofield and Kate Beckinsale. The company's latest recording is also its most ambitious: an unabridged version of the novel Ulysses, read by Irish actors Jim Norton and Marcella Riordan. Released in Dublin in June to tie in with the centenary of the day on which James Joyce set his masterpiece, the boxed set contained 22 CDs with 27 hours of reading. 'You can get a literary education quite easily if you work your way through all our audio books,' says Heymann. 'Originally, we recorded only existing texts. But then we started to commission things. Opera Explained, Classical Music Explained - no one else is doing that. It's sort of an analysis of classical music, but in a very easy to understand manner.' 'This, I'm very proud of,' says Heymann, tapping an entry in the Naxos catalogue called The Instruments of the Orchestra. 'It's basically understanding orchestration. There's a whole CD devoted to the violin - what you can do with a violin.' The instrument is yet another passion that gels Heymann's career and private life - his wife is Japanese classical violinist Takako Nishizaki. 'My best- selling artist,' he says. Framed copies of Nishizaki's CDs on the Naxos label cover a wall of his meeting room. Soames and Heymann take pride in making money by combining good music and literature. The focus on CDs and cassettes was the first of its kind, they say. Their pursuit of quality in the choice of actors and the use of music to compliment literature is indisputable. 'The idea was to help us get into bookshops more,' says Heymann. 'I also felt that bookshops were a more cultural space than record shops, where they sell all kinds of junk - junk music - whereas bookshops, by and large, sell culture. Basically, we see ourselves as a company selling culture.'