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Worst CD cover of 2017

December 7, 2017 by norman lebrecht

37 comments.


Has to be this.

Was the designer feeling very sad?

Had the marketing manager taken p/maternity leave?

Did everyone else leave their marbles at the door?


Comments (37)

  1. Pianofortissimo says:

    Less is more. The cover is almost nothing, and that makes it erfect!

    1. Robert Roy says:

      +1

    2. Una says:

      erfect? Ha, ha, fortissimo!!!

      1. Pianofortissimo says:

        I touched the p-key too softly…

        🙂

  2. Edoardo says:

    If this a bad cover, then what about any CD cover released by Philips in the 90?

    This a perfect black Prada CD cover 🙂

  3. Robertokles says:

    There was unglier covers this year, even with high profile color; just think in the cover of Bartoli / Gabetta release (Dolce duello), with all this happy-candy-air and the photoshop-brushed mezzo looking almost 20 years younger and 20 kgs. thinner… 🙁

  4. Steve P says:

    I actually enjoyed the cd, but I agree the packaging doesn’t seem to make much sense.

    1. Una says:

      At least you’ll find it easily over the ‘posey’ ones in the shops! A bit funereal and black death-looking, I must admit but like a book, don’t judge a CD by its cover!

    2. Max Grimm says:

      I have a feeling that looking at the actual cover, holding it in ones hand, it will look more like this…
      https://www.amazon.de/Project-Harding-Symphony-Orchestra-Matthias/dp/B076FHDR8M/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1512668572&sr=8-1&keywords=matthias+goerne+wagner

  5. Dave says:

    Well, it doesn’t render well on screen unless the appropriate care is taken. Google it and you’ll find much more faithful examples.

    In any case, a much more imposing and impressive cover than so many of those opera issues where cameras and costumes should have been kept away from the artiste.

  6. Stweart says:

    Not really better if you enhance it .

  7. Mike Schachter says:

    Austerity. Or depression.

  8. Iris says:

    Well, actually it is rather a successful CD cover …. because we are talking about it ?

  9. Ungeheuer says:

    Little problem with it. Makes one focus. Draws one in, kind of like the beautiful Andante CD covers. Alas, no info on composer(s) or music in it.

    1. John Borstlap says:

      The designer could not find the appropriate information and got terribly depressed about it.

    2. Andreas B. says:

      “The Wagner Project” !
      black on black, admittedly hard to decipher in this picture.

      it could even look quite good in the flesh.

      1. John Borstlap says:

        Maybe the designer did not like Wagner.

  10. Hilary says:

    It’s a happy coincidence that one of the most striking LP covers of all time was assigned to a great Mahler recording:https://www.amazon.co.uk/Mahler-Symphony-3-Gustav/dp/B000003EMK.
    CDs give less scope for these wild fourishes of the imagination!

    1. Edoardo says:

      Who designed it?

      1. Hilary says:

        Amiss of me not to credit: Maurice Sendak, no less.
        A very musical man, and inspired an opera by Oliver Knussen (‘Where the Wild Things Are’)

  11. Anon says:

    Spinal Tap did something similar with “Smell the Glove”.

    As Nigel Tufnell said, “It’s like, ‘how much more black could this be?’ and the answer is ‘None. None more black.'”

    1. Robert Roy says:

      Oh yes. The Wonderful Spinal Tap!

      Obviously intended as a spoof on The Beatles ‘White’ album.

      1. FS60103 says:

        Can’t believe no-one has posted this yet. “It’s time to kick arse!”

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wx6fwfBKCIQ

  12. Cubs Fan says:

    Maybe in this day when most people download music, a CD cover no longer matters so why make a fuss. I think it’s rather striking.

    1. Una says:

      Probably but many of us will be dead before that happens!!!

  13. ivan martinez says:

    “Had the marketing manager taken p/maternity leave?”

    REALLY?

  14. Bruce says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Singer’s name + composer’s name + conductor + orchestra… what else is needed?

  15. Elizabeth Owen says:

    at least there isn’t a picture of him in his underpants!

  16. Alvaro says:

    Someone should do a ranking of :
    – worst classical music blog post
    – worst classical music blog
    – worst classical music blogger.

    I know who’d win in all those categories. Do you?

  17. mtcs says:

    Norman, you should see the White Album by some ska band named The Beatles.

      1. mr oakmountain says:

        After all, Richard Wagner uses a lot of heavy metal instruments in his orchestra. Wagner tubas, bass tubas, bass trumpets, ….

    1. John Borstlap says:

      Not much thinking has gone into that one.

  18. Whoever says:

    I wonder if Mr. Lebrecht has submitted any CD covers featuring renaissance, baroque, rococo, romantic era or impressionist paintings for the “Worst CD Cover of Year X”? Though many such album covers aren’t in the best of taste, it’s difficult to call a cover featuring a Botticelli, Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Dante Gabriel Rossetti or Monet, etc., a “worst” of anything.

    So does Mr Lebrecht realize that the key artwork used for the above Wagner album, which he states as being the reason for nominating it the “Worst CD Cover of 2017”, is what many a famous art critic has called the most groundbreaking modernist painting in art history?

    Surely anyone can recognize that “The Black Square”, an iconic painting by Kazimir Malevich painted in 1915, forms the canvas (no pun intended) upon which the title of this CD is superimposed. The first version was done in 1915. The work is frequently invoked by critics, historians, curators, and artists as the “zero point of painting”, referring to the painting’s historical significance and paraphrasing Malevich. To quote Wikipedia:

    “A plurality of art historians, curators, and critics refer to [The] Black Square as one of the seminal works of modern art, and of abstract art in the Western painterly tradition generally.

    Malevich declared the square a work of Suprematism, a movement which he proclaimed but which is associated almost exclusively with the work of Malevich and his apprentice Lissitzky today. The movement did have a handful of supporters amongst the Russian avant garde but it was dwarfed by its sibling constructivism whose manifesto harmonized better with the ideological sentiments of the revolutionary communist government during the early days of Soviet Union. Suprematism may be understood as a transitional phase in the evolution of Russian art, bridging the evolutionary gap between futurism and constructivism.

    The larger and more universal leap forward represented by the painting, however, is the break between representational painting and abstract painting—a complex transition with which Black Square has become identified and for which it has become one of the key shorthands, touchstones or symbols.

    Malevich had made some remarks about his painting.

    – “It is from zero, in zero, that the true movement of being begins.”
    – “I transformed myself in the zero of form and emerged from nothing to creation, that is, to Suprematism, to the new realism in painting – to non-objective creation.”
    – “[Black Square is meant to evoke] the experience of pure non-objectivity in the white emptiness of a liberated nothing.”

    Peter Schjeldahl wrote:

    ‘The brushwork is juicy and brusque: filling in the shapes, fussing with the edges. But the forms are weightless, more like thoughts than like images. You don’t look at the picture so much as launch yourself into its trackless empyrean. Beyond its obvious design flair, the work looks easy because it is. Malevich is monumental not for what he put into pictorial space but for what he took out: bodily experience, the fundamental theme of Western art since the Renaissance. His appeal to Americans isn’t surprising. Apart from a peculiarly Russian mystical tradition, which he exploited—evoking the compact spell of the icon, as a conduit of the divine—his work amounts to a cosmic “Song of the Open Road.” It conveys sheer, surging, untrammelled possibility. This quality seemed in synch with the Revolution of 1917. It wasn’t—which Malevich was painfully made aware of, first by his rivals in the Russian avant-garde and then, conclusively, by the regime of Joseph Stalin.'”
    ~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Square_(painting)

    Surely, with a few changes in wording to reflect that one is talking about Wagner and not Malevich, one could use Malevich’s own descriptions of the painting and those of the art critic quoted above as symbolic of what Wagner said about himself (particularly in the context of the Ring des Nibelungen) and what subsequent music critics have said about Wagner’s music and its impact on subsequent composers by its rejection of diatonic functiontionality.

    Seen from this perspective (again, no pun intended), the CD cover in the picture above may well be the most brilliant choice of visual symbolism for a specific composer’s music in the history of album covers.

    PS To supplement the above, I paraphrase the title of the Scherzo from Ives’ Piano Trio: “TCIAJ”, as I confess myself guilty of intentionally committing a fallacy of division.

  19. J. says:

    I love it. It’s austere and understated.


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