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Cover Art on Classical Cds

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Showing 1-25 of 554 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Feb 24, 2010 9:25:29 PM PST
John Spinks says:
I've got a confession to make. On more than one occasion, I've bought a classical recording based on the cover artwork! Talk about judge a book by its cover. Does artwork have any impact on your buying decisions? Or am I the only one to have been manipulated? Many times I buy a reputable performer and think "what ugly packaging!" Example: How many Brendel recordings have I purchased? I can't think of a single one that doesn't feature his, bless his heart, rather homely face.

Posted on Feb 24, 2010 9:39:45 PM PST
Noise says:
An attractive package design DOES have a certain appeal. I'm sure none of us has ever bought a Naxos issue based on the cover art...

Of course, sometimes you CAN judge a recording by its cover. Like a Karajan Beethoven disc I have whose cover features Herbie posing next to a jet, with KARAJAN in great huge letters and Beethoven in tiny type as if he wasn't really the point...

Maybe classical music would sell more albums if they got the rock 'n' roll people to design their covers ;)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2010 9:59:49 PM PST
Park says:
Hey Noise! Do you remember (or maybe you are not old enough to remember) the 1970s cover art for classical releases? RCA and Columbia were really into it with the psychedelic cover art, especially the Best of... or ...Greatest Hits series. You didn't know if you were buying King Crimson or Khachaturian in those days. :=)

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 24, 2010 10:49:41 PM PST
Noise says:
M. Parkinson - Haha, sorry, I'm not nearly old enough for that, unfortunately - I'm 19. Am I the youngest person here? Zehnder must be about my age.

I really think the decline of cover art is one of the more lamentable parts of the digital age of recorded music. You just can't fit onto a little CD cover what you could get on a 12-inch LP sleeve - and now with downloads, it seems cover art is becoming sadly obsolete...

Posted on Feb 24, 2010 11:32:16 PM PST
Cover art does matter to me. Not surprisingly the French labels have some of the best cover art; Zig Zag is almost worth getting for the artwork alone. The main reason I want the Deutsche Grammophon box set of Monique Haas recordings is that I like the cover with a simple drawing of her over a yellow background, it seems like the kind of cover one may have found during the era when these recordings were made.

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 5:51:42 AM PST
M. Rowan says:
Hyperion is another label which does a nice job with its cover art. I think it reflects the attention to detail and care that they put into the entire process of producing a CD.

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 6:08:05 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2010 6:09:16 AM PST
Jacob says:
Spectrum Brass Quintet has a new album out that has amazing design on the cover and booklet. The company that did the design - Stereotonic - came into existence to do classical and jazz artwork because they are big fans and feel like the design is lacking.Rhapsody-the Music of George Gershwin

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 6:09:41 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2010 6:10:04 AM PST
K. Bowersock says:
I love the DG covers of old - with just a picture (many times of the performer) and the the big yellow crown and tulips flagged across the top. I love the old-school simplicity and uniformity of it.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 6:35:24 AM PST
Piso Mojado says:
The owl-eyed, perpetually bewildered expression of Alfred Brendel peering around corners doesn't appeal to me either. CPO and Hyperion have some of the best covers. Another detraction is photographic overkill of the artists: there are sometimes 15 or more images of them. Classic tpe with simple decorative borders goes a long way for me.

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 6:49:48 AM PST
scarecrow says:
Well CD or Vinyl covers can show that great, GREAT musicians are only human,
like a photo of Richter walking in the Red Light District in Paris, Pigalle;or some Trio gazing into the Danube;on a grey,penumbral overcase rainy day, with the cello and viola cases tossed willy nilly behind them; on the bench; with a black n'white dog in the background sniffing around for some good music;

or Shostakovich smoking a cigarette;, Rostropovich getting out of a Taxi; or Gidon Kremer in a restaurant in Venice, looking at the Menu; while his Violin case is on the other seat trying to decide what to have; along with Kremer;

Cage's "Etudes Australes" Vinyl with Grete Sultan pianist actually won a Prize just for the Cover, forget the music; It was a Starmap, different colours of the Star system seen by those inhabitants of Down-Under the Globe;tossed with those wedges piano tuners use, Cage uses them as well in the piece to hold down certain tones, they are places between the keyboard keys, not inside;

Kairos Label; churns out some good abstracts cover art, like the current one for Marc Andre, composer, or Georges Aperghis, or PierLuigi Billone; Beat Furrer;Bernhard Gander, "Bunny Games"; a chamber piece;it's not what you think!

If the Cover Art is good and I like the music that's just a special added twist, but CD covers are not like the scale we got with vinyl, CD ruined skewed that part of the experience of consuming music, seriously, I guess you cant have both, progress in recording art, and visual stimulation;

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 7:08:47 AM PST
E. Hansen says:
Does anyone here remember the old Wesminster Gold label? (from the era of vinyl)

I bought some of their albums just because the covers were hilarious.

Especially The Planets.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 7:15:28 AM PST
Piso Mojado says:
E. Hansen -- I THINK I remember Westminster Golds ... Hermann Scherchen sonic spectaculars maybe, ... Gliere? A friend is transferring Scherchen's William Tell overture from that time onto a CD for me. He makes a spectacular "Fp" forte-then-piano-then huge crescendo on the last note of the fanfare leading into the gallop finale with Tonto nowhere in sight. It's such a great idea, but I've never heard another conductor do it, they just blare out the final note like a stuck trombone or taxi klaxon.

scarecrow -- One of your best. May I borrow grey penumbral overcast rainy day?

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 7:54:13 AM PST
Chandos does a nice job with their covers most of the time. Hyperion, which has already been mentioned, has some great looking cover designs. I find most classical covers to be uncreative. There's too much emphasis made on the conductor (not that they're not important). There should be more emphasis made on the composer. Not only on the covers, but even the inside booklet.

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 8:08:17 AM PST
down2erth says:
I may (or may not) have been influenced to buy based on the cover art, especially CPO - some others that sometimes do a nice job on the covers would be Chandos, ASV, Hyperion and yes even Naxos. I do agree that pictures of the conductors, performers and even the composers, do little for me. I do appreciate extensive liner notes about the composers, less about the performers.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 9:16:34 AM PST
Park says:
Noise: You're 19 and listening to Classical Music as much as you do? Cool, dude! (Are they still saying cool, dude?) When I was 19 in the seventies, I thought I was the only one my age who was listening as much as I did. I had a huge record collection even back then. I am happy that you get a lot out of the LP cover art. It certainly adds to the artistry of the musical experience! The covers of the RCA Victrola LPs and the London Stereo Treasury Series LPs were great, especially for the price.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 9:28:35 AM PST
For the veterans who might have forgotten, here's Gregory E. Foster's thread named : Recordings I Bought For The Cover, or "Because Of The Cover"

The initial post dates back to Sept 2007. In this forum, that is Ancient.

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 9:33:22 AM PST
Park says:
Thanks Zadok! I guess I have to say that a record I bought for the cover was Haitink's recording of Debussy's Nocturnes and Jeux on Phillips. A great performance, but love the cover!

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 9:35:25 AM PST
DavidRFoss says:
Noise says:
and now with downloads, it seems cover art is becoming sadly obsolete...
I think its actually making a bit of a comeback MP3's because the players are getting fancier. I always try to set the cover art on my MP3's so they show up nice on my IPod. Its smaller than a square inch on my iPod Classic but noticeably larger on iPhone's and iTouches. It doesn't sound like much because its so small but a nice bit of distinctive art when I'm checking the track info on the player.

When playing directly from the hard-drive on a PC/Laptop through something like ITunes, you can make the cover art appear quite large. I suspect in the future as laptops get smaller and iPods/iPads get more powerful and the lines between them get blurred that a nice display of the cover-art while the MP3 is playing will be very common (except for the tiny players marketed for exercising).

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 9:44:43 AM PST
DavidRFoss says:
There were some great blog posts a few years ago listing some strange and bizarre classical album covers. There was a Barenboim Choral Fantasy album that had a naked woman holding busts of Beethoven over her... umm... bust. :-) Oh, and the Pavarotti's Greatest Hits with Pav in full Pagliacci clown attire with a giant bass drum is still in print.

Here's a classic:

I don't know how they fit Sir Adrian Boult into those tights, but it appears the look worked well for him. :-)

Wish I could find that blog link. There were a few dozen great examples.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 9:56:29 AM PST
In the "What were they THINKING !?" department, insert this cover :
Schubert: Winterreise (Live from Wigmore Hall)

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 10:28:00 AM PST
Noise says:
I don't mind pictures of the performer if they're well done, and particularly if they're significant to the album; if you're buying a recording centered around the artist, like 'Horowitz in Moscow', or a collection of Toscanini performances, it makes perfect sense of course. But more interesting and thoughtful imagery always welcome. I do like a lot of the Chandos designs I've seen. I love the awesome cover of the Chandos recording of Norgard's 6th Symphony: Nørgård: Symphony 6: At the End of the Day / Terrains Vague

My own entry in the 'What were they thinking???' contest: Frederick Fennell & the Eastman Wind Ensemble: Grainger; Persichetti...

Posted on Feb 25, 2010 10:35:25 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2010 10:37:41 AM PST
I'm influenced one way or the other by covers all the time. The independent labels that do all the Baroque stuff and have cool covers and packaging always tempt me.

Brendel has a tremendously expressive face. I think it's his Mozart Piano Concertos 9 & 21 disc that captures this best -- check it out:

Mozart: Piano Concertos, K271 & K503

Plus he looks exactly the way his fans would want and expect him to look, I suspect. (I'm one of the fans.) Covers are done for marketing; someone at Philips A&R must have realized what they had and decided he should be on the covers. I doubt they regret the decision.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 10:36:02 AM PST
Noise says:
M. Parkinson - Yep, me and many of my friends are classical fans. (I know a lot of music majors...) Sometimes it gets me funny looks when I listen to it in the architecture studio, but hey, that's okay too.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 12:06:57 PM PST
Park says:
Noise: Frederick Fennell, what were they thinking.............he-he-he-he. Actually, the Persichetti Symphony is a great piece.

In reply to an earlier post on Feb 25, 2010 12:37:16 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Feb 25, 2010 12:39:04 PM PST
Noise says:
I've played one or two Persichetti band pieces, though not the symphony. Still not sold on him, although he did grow on me somewhat as I got to know the pieces in question. Grainger, on the other hand, I absolutely love... Of course, Fennell is awesome, in spite of the silly covers on so many Eastman Wind Ensemble albums. (There's another one with a bunch of armored knights on horseback on the cover, even though none of the pieces have the slightest bit to do with knights...) Not only did he do great work at Eastman, but he also did a couple of terrific CDs with the winds of the Cleveland Orchestra. He was a remarkable pedagogue too - his conducting workshops were famous for including calisthenics and underwater exercises.
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Discussion in:  Classical Music forum
Participants:  73
Total posts:  554
Initial post:  Feb 24, 2010
Latest post:  9 days ago

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