I was so keen to wrap my ears around the harpsichordist Mahan Esfahani’s debut disc – a set of C P E Bach Württemberg Sonatas – that I paid no attention to the wrapping until I’d had a full run-through of the stunningly advanced pieces on the album, brilliantly played. Then I looked at the cover.
It shows a young chap with no clothes on, airing his gentleman’s relish to the light of day.
Now, I’m no prude and the sketch is undoubtedly a work of art, but classical recording has generally drawn the line at exposing boys’ and girls’ bits anywhere below the pubic bone. Above the line there has been plenty of exposure – all in the name of art, of course – but this Hyperion release seems to me to cross the genital line, and for no good reason.
The picture (I looked closely) is not a likeness of either CPE Bach or Mahan Esfahani. Contradict me if you know better.
It is titled Reclining male nude supported by left arm, looking upwards by Anton Rafael Mengs (1728-1779) and it is reproduced courtesy of the Martin von Wagner Museum at the University of Würzburg.
Würzburg, in case you’re wondering, is in Bavaria. It has nothing to do with Württemberg, or the Duke of Württemberg, a former pupil for whom CPE Bach wrote his extraordinary sonatas.
So what’s the boy and his tackle doing on the cover? There has to be a reason, right?