Return of the glamour-pack CD

At a time when the rest of the record industry is trimming costs and frills, the French have gone barking up the counter-intuitive route.

William Christie has launched an Arts Florissants own-label with Music for Queen Caroline. It comes furnished with two booklets, the second containing a bi-lingual short story by the best-selling novelist Douglas Kennedy. It weighs a ton. The  music is feather-light. Bulk is the new CD.

Another new Paris label, La Dolce Volta, proclaims that it ‘wants to change people’s perceptions of the CD so that they see them as luxury items’… Each release will be designed as a work of art.’

Er, yes, and takes up four times the shelf space of a normal CD – not an obvious selling point to space-poor collectors. What’s more, much of the added heft is made up of multilingual interviews with artists who have little to say.

Despite these irritations, I have chose a Dolce Vita release as my Album of the Week on sinfinimusic.com. Click here to find out why.

la dolce vita

Does anyone prefer heavy CDs to light?

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  • The label’s name is actually La Dolce Volta – which may explain why the website doesn’t work on your computer. And therefore the meaning of the label’s name is quite different. But it is obviously a reference to “the good life” with which you (understandably) confused it.

    Rumor has it that one of the two founders, a French PR, was unceremoniously dropped from the label soon after helping found it. Probably a more interesting story than the CDs themselves, and worth investigating. The catalog looks superficial. The Aldo Ciccolini CD is the only one I’ve heard, and it was disappointingly weak. Perhaps not surprising, since he’s in his late 80’s. I agree that the packaging is pretentious, but now that Naive is such a mess, a lot of small French labels try to become the next cool “luxury” label (and fail).

  • La Dolce Volta has a few interesting things on its catalogue: mainly recordings they bought from Calliope when this great label went bust. Recordings by the Talich Quartet, by André Isoir…
    The rest is kind of weak indeed, even the CDs that have received praise from critics (Debussy’s Préludes by Bianconi for instance) are clearly second rate and will be soon forgotten…

  • I’m actually happy to see attempts made in this direction. Those of us old enough fondly remember the great days of lp with RCA’s Soria series; or Monteux’s Traviata packaged with a hardcover edition of the Dumas novel; the Callas Carmen which included an English version of the Merimee novel; Decca/London’s sumptuous Rosenkavalier (Solti) book with full color repros of the original designs and costumes and in-depth articles about the opera (they charged an extra dollar but it was well worth it); the legendary package on EMI/Angel that housed the complete Mussorgsky songs with Christoff. And so much more. Even “regular” releases had thoughtful add-ons like the Callas Cavalleria set that included the complete Verga short story.

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