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Would you buy a classical record for its cover?

In these days of glammed-up artist mug-shots, any cover that looks like someone has expended on it two seconds of original thought usually goes to the top of my pile. That’s what caught my eye with the new Alexandra Dariescu release, reimagining a Renoir portrait. What held my attention was a musical idea – the complete preludes of Chopin and Dutilleux. It’s my album of the week on Read the review here.

alexandra dariescu2

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  1. Ignacio Martínez-Ybor says:

    Well, perhaps……. when there is as garishly dreadful, totally tasteless, supremely embarrassing a cover as that given Decca’s stereo Richard Strauss’ Salome LP one is tempted to buy for the cover, certainly by itself a “party” item. It helps that the performance is by Birgit Nilsson, conducted by Georg Solti. It certainly is a good contender for some sort of astonishing superlative cover prize.

  2. Sebastian / LondonJazz says:

    Champs Hill produce, present and package their albums really well!

    • Martin Locher says:

      Just checked some of them out. Indeed, some really nice covers.

      I ended my thought of downloading the American Violin concertos though when I saw a price of £8.99 for the full CD of 9 tracks priced at 0.99 each, which makes only £8.91. Silly.

      • Martin Locher says:

        I even found a record with 7 tracks only priced at 99 cents, but they still ask for 8.99 for the full record, which now made me drop them a line or two. Let’s see how they explain this.

        • Martin Locher says:

          Part of the labels convincing answer:

          “We elect to invest in very high-quality recordings and support for our artists, rather than web-technology. it is important, too, for us to keep things simple, as we don’t have an office of people to look after the label, the website, and so on. So track prices are set at 99p throughout the catalogue, and albums at 8.99 (11.99 for the physical disc).”

          They try to keep things as simple and as honest as possible. Nice label worthy of some more attention.

  3. It depends… a nice portrait of Elizabeth Schwartkopf on a Lieder Album is going to attract me because along with Elly Amerling she is one of my favourite female interpreters of the repertoire. Likewise, portraits of artists and artiistes I admire where they are the soloist in concerti, song cycles and recital programmes are a bit of a draw, or the conductor on collections of their symphonic output, group portraits of chamber ensembles on their recording the “it does what it says on the tin” approach to album covers tends to work.

    However, they do not need to dress provocatively, or pose provocatively (the contrary is preferable) and I have no objection to black and white or bright colours, but really do not want to require sun-glasses to look at my album sleeves or wonder which bucket of vomit they dragged that one out of.

    Now if a piece of music is reflected by a particular movement in art, by all means put a work of art that reflects that epoch on the cover, but leave the world of the popular music album cover to popular music or new music where it may be more appropriate. I really don’t want to see Mozart getting the Andy Warhol treatment. It makes me wonder what has been done to the music (however good the artist line up is on paper).

  4. It’s hard to beat this LP cover for tastelessness (Horowitz/Szell in a pirated (???) broadcast of a live performance of the Tchaikovsky Concerto No. 1 from the 1950′s, issued in Italy):

    • Unbelievable….

      • Sometimes I really wonder what Szell would have thought of that. According to Gary Graffman, he was quite a stickler for appearances (in Mr. Graffman’s book “I Really Should Be Practicing”, it was an incident concerning the photo shooting for the cover of one of their Tchaikovsky LPs … Graffman’s hair was apparently much too long to suit Szell’s taste).

  5. As a misguided teenager, I did once buy an Il Divo album (does that even count as a classical record?) on account that they looked rather attractive…haven’t made that mistake since!

  6. Marguerite Foxon says:

    Well Im more likely to NOT buy an album for its cover. The new one due for soon release of Anna Netrebko with the most shockingly photoshopped portrait on the front has fans saying they may not buy it because of the cover. I c cant understand how Netrebko, such a glamorous woman and very concerned about appearances, could have possibly agreed to the cover – although all the hype it has now caused on facebook and online is free publicity of course!

  7. Petros Linardos says:

    No, i wouldn’t be carried away by a nice cover, but would be delighted about it. One of my recent favorites is the one for the Bach Suites played by Concerto Koeln.

  8. When I was, maybe, seven years old, we bought the RCA Red Seal Lp of Horowitz playing Beethoven Sonatas. I dunno, one look at that pic of him, and the title, I thought, “I’m going to do that one day”. There is definitely ‘curb appeal’ to buying recordings.

  9. David Gifford says:

    Well, the old saying, ‘never judge a book by its cover’, applies to albums too; it’s the content that matters. And with a CD you can always reverse the booklet if the cover is that offensive – or tear it off and bin it!

  10. Rebecca Brite says:

    I bought this one for the cover:

    I also tried to get the record store owner to give me the life-size Sam Ramey advertising display stand of the same photo, but he’d already promised it to … his mother!

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