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All right then, should classical covers look like this?

Bat for Lashes is very big among the 20-somethings. The cover image is arresting. Those who object to a Nick Cave cover on grounds of alleged misogyny, tell us why would this not work on a classical release.

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  1. They should have cookies. It’s not Wagner without a big cookie.

  2. This could be a modern version of a Stravinsky recording,,,,,,:)

  3. I suppose the image in this cover is arresting because a) nudity and b) a girl is carrying a guy (dead? asleep?)

    It might have less impact on a classical cover because a) the target market might object to nudity on prurient grounds b) more importantly, I assume the healthy-looking girl in the Bat For Lashes cover is in the band? Well, therefore she is rightly the centre of attention. But on a classical release you’ve got the composer and the canon to contend with. Very often people will buy a record because it’s a specific Vivaldi / Rachmaninov / etc piece. To have some exhibitionist on the cover leads one immediately to expect that they are putting themselves before the composer, and the music might be a secondary concern…

    Depends, though, on who the composer is. Many contemporary composers might do well having some kind of “artistic” record cover (but please, no, not with nudity – I can’t think of a single contemporary composer I’d like to see naked! Well maybe one or two I wouldn’t mind but they’ll remain nameless!!!)

    • Joep Bronkhorst says:

      The healthy-looking girl is not just ‘in the band’: Bat for Lashes is a solo artist and that is she! Maybe she thinks the photo sums up a theme of the album (e.g. ‘revealing the real me’). Context is everything.

      Besides, we’ve already had classical covers with a beautiful soloist sloshing around in the ocean (Vanessa-Mae). It didn’t harm her record sales but it also didn’t endear her to critics, for the reasons above. It’s also a bit tacky.

  4. How about an album of “Barenboim Conducts Boulez” with a nude Barenboim holding a nude Boulez over his shoulders in this pose?

    • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

      Oh my! The thought of either of them nude is enought to….oh never mind.

      I once attended a concert of OdParis and IRCAM in Salle Pleyel. The first half (OdP) was Strauss Burleske conducted by Boulez with Barenboim at the keyboard and then Petrouchka (1947 complete) with Boulez conducting. Second half was Pierrot Lunaire with Barenboim conducting an IRCAM ensemble. For the second half, Boulez sat in the audience (behind me!). After the concert, I went backstage and I couldn’t get near Barenboim because of security (this was in the mid 90s around the time of the subway attacks in Paris). Boulez was wandering around so I congratulated him since he was not a target (at least by non-musical terrorists).

      Another famous cover for the solo violin sonatas and partitas of Bach featured a comely lass (the violinist) holding her fiddle to cover her bare breasts. Another rather handsomely endowed female violinist said to me that if she ever were to do a cover like that she would need a cello to cover the area!

    • Thank you for finally saying Boulez has no clothes.

  5. It would work rather nicely for certain record companies if the lady was the conductor and the compliant male her soloist for the recording.

  6. This would be a perfect idea for the CD cover of Christoph Eschenbach conducting Tzimon Barto in a Prokofiev, Bartok concertos album. And it better be Eschenbach carrying Barto, not the other way round.

  7. Farewell to arms?

  8. A Valkyrie carrying her booty, as it were?

  9. Paul D. Sullivan, Boston US says:

    A good cover for Delibes “Sylvia, ou La nymphe de Diane”. Much better than, say, this.

  10. Why is an arty photograph of some naked people considered potentially offensive and, say for example, this isn’t?

  11. I do enjoy the lovely discussion and répartie on this site, and really appreciate the news…..Cover art, on books or music may catch my eye, but ultimately it is the content that draws me to purchase…..but I am always intrigued that so many are so easily attracted or repelled by a nude…..

    • Indeed. I’m also intrigued that so many are easily attracted or repelled by a Nude. Here, everyday I’ve got to pass through the sidewalk aside the beach (Rio de Janeiro). It’s been like it for many years, and on a daily routine I can see much more than in these two front covers and It is still something sometimes beautiful or not, but always extremely normal and never a big deal.

    • Joep Bronkhorst says:

      Which comments convey attraction or repulsion to the Bat for Lashes picture?

  12. Do I really have to be the first person here to point out that whenever a classical music CD cover uses sex (like a half-naked cellist or a violinist standing in the sea in a see-through dress) the classical music establishment – and critics in particular – are up in arms about it?

    “The only way they can justify their existence to the corporate megaliths that own them is by…producing images that are familiar to the rock and multimedia forces that control this industry. And so they have to have bimbos and starlets, and they have to have them in the nude.” (Norman Lebrecht, Sun Sentinel, 2001)

    I know that this was about the ‘pop’ quartet Bond, but it was certainly said with disgust. Are you saying that you DO now think that it’s OK to have nude people on the covers of classical CDs?

    Personally, I’m a supporter of as much nudity as possible. Just not orchestral musicians, please ;-)

    • I am saying that these are arresting images – human, engaging, intriguing. They tell a story and make you want to hear the music. There is no need to strip classical artists, but we urgently need more of the above.

  13. Stephen Carpenter says:

    I remember a run of Westminster LPs qith rather tongue -ub-cheek covers. It was a breath of fresh air amidst all the rococo stuff and constructivist lines and splatters. The artists and recordings were actually pretty good sometimes. (So I was a new and avid listener- but sometimes I bought the LP for the cover and then found the music.)
    If it’s only about the music and the artists performing, you don;t need anything else- just text. That might work for a few people but it won’t attract any new listeners or people just starting out like I was in the 60′s early 70′s.
    It is fascinating to me that our visual art history regarding the human figure is largely nude. It wasn’t offensive until a puritanical mentality set in. If a cover will engage a new generation of classical music enthusiasts, then I would champion a creative approach and include a brown paper stick on with the details of the recording for those who feel the need to keep their shelves — pristine.
    As to the recording of Lara st. John’s solos Bach suites and partitas- I learned about it from NPR and they played a snippet. I bought the CD. I thought the cover was perfect on many levels and her artistry was electrifying. Think about it- Bach- Unaccompanied Suites for solos Violin. Pretty straightforward, basic, and intimate (except for the high craft and stamina required).

  14. This is nothing new, the scantily-clad female form has been used to sell everything from beer cars to classical music since advertising was invented. It’s more tiresome and boring than anything else.

  15. Bach’s Organ Works, perhaps? Or Air on the G String. Or even Eine Kleine Nachtmusik. And perhaps we could rename Beethoven’s Third as the Erotica Symphony, purely in the name of art, of course.

  16. Paul Kelly says:

    This thread reminds me of a lovely Yehudi Menhuin story. He was booked to play a nudist camp and after some debate decided to play it in traditional concert attire – tails and all. The auidience were completely au naturel. But there was no frisson. As expected they loved and he was re-booked to play the same camp the following year. Remembering the previous year’s concert this time he elected to respect the audience and play it naked. He walked out on stage to find the nudist camp audience awaiting him expectantly and fully clothed.

  17. Victoria Clarke says:

    Are you buying the album for the music or the cover art? This argument seems very superficial.

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