Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Greatest Classical CD Covers EVER, Part 13

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THE BEST OF JOSHUA BELL
This shot was taken from Bell's Gilmore Girls appearance. He was the sexually non-threatening fiddle playing boy who stole a kiss from Rory under the mulberry tree. Then a bunch of girls in the town went missing and the town blamed him. He was tarred and feathered and thrown in the river where he drowned. Then it turns out the girls were just on a school trip to a museum in Hartford.


DIANA DAMRAU - COLORATURAS
Diana is at the stage in her career where she needs dolled-up, Renée Fleming type CD covers. Not ones where she's dressed up like Rhoda's spazzy sister doing a grim parody of the freeze frame at the of the Mary Tyler Moore Show intro credits.


HAUSMUSIK
This looks like a screen capture from a bad real estate website. The web designer was obviously just throwing together random clip art. "Sylvia and David have been in the Rochester real estate market for a combined 27 years. Let their experience and expertise take all the stress out of your home buying experience. With their help, you can turn your new house into a HOME."


GUASTAVINO / CASTELNUOVO-TEDESCO
Bismillah! No, we will not let you go! Let me go! Bismillah! We will not let you go! Let me go! No no no no no no no! Oh mamma mia, mamma mia! Mamma mia, let me go! Beelzebub has a devil put aside for me, for me, for MEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!


MADARASZ - THE LAST WALTZ
Wow. This one takes me back! Mommy slipping me spiked tea while she dances with some blurry weirdo who isn't daddy. And my closet was a wonderful portal to some exotic magical land. Well, it was until we discovered the auto repair shop below us was leaking carbon monoxide into my room.


WITCHES' BREW
A generation of children were turned off classical music forever by this cover. An easily-entertained woman in baggy clothes cleans used instruments in boiling water, presumably with an eye to reselling them. This one follows one of the iron clad rules of great album cover design: a cover must give absolutely no indication of the album's contents. This could be a spooky sound effects record for all we know.


TITO GOBBI - THE GLASS MOUNTAIN
Nothing like a beloved singer made up to look like a hobo playing a broken down accordian. This is as distressing as seeing Placido Domingo in a Bum Fights video. Maybe Tito was doing a Lucille Ball Stone Pillow kinda deal with this. Or maybe it's from a Gunsmoke guest appearance with Walter Brennan. Just when you think you have the answer, this cover changes the question.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Greatest Classical CD Covers EVER, Part 12

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PROKOFIEV - PETER AND THE WOLF
Lenny Henry?! Was Mrs. Slocombe busy? Not everyone who's famous in a country somewhere needs to have their own Peter And The Wolf. I eagerly await the new version in Klingon narrated by Brent Spiner.


MATT HAIMOVITZ - BACH CELLO SUITES
Okay, bringing the cello to the bush party sounded like a good idea. But man, if you're gonna wade through waist-deep winter run-off, man, BRING A CASE. Besides, once the goons start chugging beers, the girls aren't gonna care about your overgrown fiddle.


BRYN TERFEL - BAD BOYS
Looks like Bryn spent a little too long with the cheese platter and is suffering the consequences. The follow up album will feature him holding up a glass of prune juice with a profoundly relieved look on his face.


VOICES FROM HEAVEN
Apparently Deutsche Grammophon's definition of paradise is a little different than mine.


THE ELGAR EXPERIENCE
What nationality was Elgar again? I forget.

England's greatest composer? A dubious claim, but I'm not gonna argue with the giant woman about to smash that village to rubble. Between Elgar's ghost featured on previous covers and this giant madwoman, England has become a paranormal warzone.


STRAUSS - DER ROSENKAVALIER (KLEIBER)
If someone showed me this as a kind of Rorschach test I'd blurt out "My grade one teacher holding a Mini-Me version of Leopold Mozart! Naked! Naked nude! Peacock feathers! Bad boy! Nude naked!" Then I'd have to be sedated.


LETTER TO THE LATE SERGEI (SAKIMOTO/MINO)
When I feel the need to express bittersweet remembrances of someone who's passed, the first thing I reach for is my harmonica. The harmonica works if Roy Rogers needs to express worry that he may not get the cattle back from those pesky rustlers or if Gabby Hayes fell in the outhouse again. Anything more than that and you need to break out the serious weapons in the mourning arsenal: a banjo or a slide whistle.

Thanks to Doug Halfen for the cover suggestion.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Greatest Classical CD Covers EVER, Part 11

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AMIEI CHAMBER PLAYERS - ZOO OF DREAMS
The classical music industry's is getting bored with ghosts and has moved on to Greek gods. I get mocked enough in my regular life and don't need the decadent denizens of Olympus laughing down at me. "Zoo Of Dreams", huh? What's that quote? "Flies around God's head are like wayward boys." Something like that.


DANIEL HOPE - AIR. A BAROQUE JOURNEY
Yeesh. This smug pomo stuff is played out, dude. Yes, yes, we get that you've cleverly deconstructed the idea of an appropriate album cover photo. Pretty 1993, if you ask me.

A better idea would have been to have a guy in the sky standing on a cloud and singing. And then maybe he could have this cool electric guitar. Yeah, and it could be powered by a lightning bolt that's hitting it. And he could have a sword. And he's just thrown the sword and it gets this three-headed dragon right in the chest. Then put "DANIEL HOPE - AIR" at the top, dripping in blood and you're done.


GEORGE FLYNN - TRINITY
Talk about promising a lot! That piano's gonna have to make quite a lot of racket to be able to live up to the cover. Maybe they'll throw the piano down a flight of stairs. Or off the Empire State Building. Or shoot it into orbit and have it explode 100 miles above the surface somewhere over Siberia. The blast could then be heard all the way to Moscow. If I put this on and hear anything less than that, I'll be disappointed.


CARMEN (OPERA FOR CHILDREN)
Gah! Looks like Wednesday Addams didn't turn out so good. I'm not sure that portraying Carmen as a pasty, skeletal crypt keeper will turn any kids on to opera. Maybe those years in the cigarette factory turned her against cigarettes and she decided to do an anti-smoking ad before she died. "Whatever you do, don't smoke. Just don't smoke."


PETER AND THE WOLF (WEIRD AL YANKOVIC AND WENDY CARLOS)
I'm going to suggest that this isn't what Prokofiev had in mind. Weird Al has a glowing Frisbee and a lasso and he's being chased around Central Park by a wolf wearing Bruce Jenner's shorts who has roid rage. And Tweety Bird's great grandson twitters the whole scene using his iMac. Probably better to burn the score than subject it to this besmirchment.


VERDI - RIGOLETTO
Rigoletto rolls his own while an evil ventriloquist's dummy tells him what to do. There's no more chilling moment in opera than when Rigoletto thinks the Duke's dead and then he hears the dummy whisting "La donna è mobile" FROM INSIDE HIS TRUNK.


MENDELSSOHN SONGS
You can tell he's way more into her that she is into him. He's thinking about what color candles to put around the tub for the bath they'll take after their homemade pasta and wine meal he's been planning all week while she's plotting an exit strategy that may or may not involve cleaning out his bank account.






BONUS!

MEGAPUSS!

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Ruler of the Interwebs

Know what happens if you enter "classical cd covers" into Google? You get this site as the #2 result. And into Bing? NUMBER ONE! USA! USA! So many of my visitors come here looking for covers and leave very frustrated.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Greatest Classical CD Covers EVER, Part 10

Click here for the complete (ongoing) series...


DES KNABEN WUNDERHORN - DAMRAU/PALEY
I hate these couples who dress up alike. You always see them truckin' down the mall wearing their matching windbreakers. Dressing alike is crazy - I fathered septuplets and you don't see me dressing them all up the same! These two will realize it isn't such a good idea anymore when they're riding home on the subway and everyone's snickering at them.


GARRETT/PLETNEV - VIOLIN CONCERTOS
Edward from Twilight is menaced by a robotic, self-aware cello while he tries to practice.


PETER EN DE WOLF
The classical music industry's undeclared war on children's psychological health continues. The drug-addled wolf with human eyes looks like he's about to start speaking and the kid looks like his mouth's about to open and keep opening until he swollows his own head. The bird is a messenger from Satan and the duck is an appalled, powerless onlooker. As are we all.


VERDI - SIMON BOCCANEGRA (ABBADO)
Another great choice for the Opera for Children. So it turns out the Doge is actually Santa Claus. Now the council scene makes a lot more sense. I was always confused why everyone was arguing about how to get all the toys done before December 25. I don't remember the opera ending with Boccanegra's head and shoulders being cut off and nailed to a door, though...


TIMOTHY BUZBEE - RAW EMOTIONS
Wine, a hot spring and one other guy was not what you were expecting when you signed up for the local polar bear club.


META 4 - HAYDN STRING QUARTETS
A good rule of thumb is never buy a disc of string quartet music which features a picture of the group on the cover. You guys wanna turn the scowling down a notch and ditch the crazy sneakers? We get it: you're bohemian. These guys are giving me the stink eye as though I just wandered into the coffee house they were playing in and ordered a Big Mac.


FLUTE AND HARPSICHORD SONATAS
Wow. Randy Bassoon Man looks like he can't wait for the recital to be over. Annie Hall Diane Keaton on cello is not looking forward to it. Maybe he'll get drunk and pass out in the cab and she can slip away and walk home.

Interesting choice to feature a bassoon and cello on an album of flute and harpsichord music. This kind of switcheroo isn't unprecedented, though:


Thanks to Dominy Clements and Kyra Davies for the cover suggestions.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Hammertime

There are multiple YouTube videos of percussionists executing one of the hammer blows during the finale to Mahler's Sixth. This one sounds perfect to me.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Up For The Download

Mahler 6 Mania continues. I've been listening to it repeatedly for the last week or so. I've finally gotten into buying music downloads as opposed to buying the music on CD and have been using iTunes exclusively. I got the Tilson Thomas and Fischer 6ths first, then a few days later got the Kubelik live performance and Zinman's (for $3.99!). I wanted to get some of the commonly-recommended versions and decided to give Pierre Boulez's version a try. Not finding it on iTunes, I went to the Universal Classics page and went to Deutsche Grammophon's webshop. I found the album there and made the purchase.

I then learned that I shouldn't complain too loudly about the iTunes store. Whatever problems it has, when you buy something, it downloads FAST. Trying to download the Boulez album from DG was a trial. I literally had to start and re-start the download 8 or 9 times (on two different machines) before I finally got the files. What takes a few minutes in iTunes took around an hour from the webshop.

I'm looking forward to being able to make purchases from passionato.com (it's currently UK-only) as they offer albums from the big 3 (Decca, DG, Philips) as well as other labels. So the download situation for classical is slowly getting better. Which is dangerous for my collectoritis. Before this Mahler binge, I don't think I ever bought multiple versions of the same work on the same day.

(The complete Dorati Haydn symphony cycle is on iTunes for $50 which makes it the steal of all centuries. Go there now.)