Maddest Mahler covers

Maddest Mahler covers


norman lebrecht

December 25, 2019

This one takes some beating.

Gone fishing?

Hello, little boy, look what I’ve got for you:

Meet me outside, I’ll take you down.

Don’t even go there.

And we haven’t even got past the 1st symphony.


  • Petros LInardos says:

    Orchestral songs: in a previous blogpost some of us saw it as an allusion to “Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen”.

  • Patrick says:

    All this aside, I miss LP album covers and the program notes on back. Both assisted in many a purchase decision.

  • Amos says:

    These are examples 1-5 why George Szell insisted on approving the design of CO lp covers. An example can be found here

    • Monsoon says:

      I thought it was that he objected to cover art that featured the musicians — he thought it was pretentious.

      • Amos says:

        No, in an interview included in a CO box set he indicated that he found the “artistic” designs of record execs were often of questionable taste. Throughout his career he approved of covers which included soloists and himself. I do recall 1 Beethoven symphony cover in which he held up his hand to partially block his image.

        • it was the Fifth Symphony – hence the hand (five fingers.) He never approved this. Never would have. This dates from a late 70’s re-issue of the Beethoven 5th, and the photo was a random shot from a Don
          Hunstein session.

        • Monsoon says:

          I’m pretty sure his issue was specifically with artists appearing on the cover art, which is why he’s only on several of his Epic/Columbia/CBS LP jackets (whereas Walter, Ormandy, and Bernstein regularly were on jacket covers). As the other poster noted, after he died and his recordings were reissued, Columbia/CBS began adding photos of him to the jacket art, which is the case with the Beethoven 5.

    • Gustavo says:


      Isn’t that by Bruckner?

  • msc says:

    I really would not put the Goya Colossus in the same league as the others — it is a decent evocation of the “Titan” sub-title, even if that does not refer to the giants of Greek myth.

  • You forgot this one:×601/filters:strip_icc():format(jpeg):mode_rgb():quality(90)/discogs-images/R-9522347-1485075917-2960.jpeg.jpg

    This appeared on the Summit label, famous for following in the grand tradition of Royale and Varsity and attributing radio or commercial recordings to pseudonymous artists. In this case, I suspect the recording is actually Everest’s Boult/LPO Mahler 1.

  • Larry L. Lash / Vienna says:

    A bit off topic, but my all-time favourite LP cover was the early 1970s Westminster Records release of “Götterdämmerung” (licensed from a Czech label) which had, against a white background, two hands crumbling a cookie:

  • David K. Nelson says:

    Oh my goodness, I have that Erich Leinsdorf LP around here somewhere. I bought it in spite of the cover. (There was a time when I favored Leinsdorf’s cool objectivity and orchestral discipline.) When you see the cover full size, it is hard to tell which one looks the more drugged and unhealthy: the man, the woman, or the horse. But the horse definitely was cleaner, and likely smelled better.

    • Amos says:

      When I subscribed to Fanfare I thought you reviewed a Leinsdorf/BSO re-issue by noting that Koussevitzky’s admonition to the players not to play with wooden fingers was routinely violated by EL? Perhaps it was Mortimer Frank.

      • David K. Nelson says:

        I so rarely was sent “pure” orchestral recordings (versus violin concerto accompaniments) to review for Fanfare, given the folks on the staff like Mort, Henry Fogel, Roger Dettmer, or John Wiser who had first dibs, that I am sure the review you recollect wasn’t by me. I would have found a reason to use that great Koussevitzky mot had I known of it at the time, and I cannot disagree with Mort’s (if it was Mort Frank) gloss on it. The Leinsdorf recordings I like best tend NOT to be those with the BSO, oddly enough, with the exception of Stravinsky’s Agon and Schuller’s 7 Studies on Themes of Paul Klee.

  • PaulD says:

    The Horenstein Mahler 1, issued by Nonesuch in the 1970s was pretty strange

  • Peter says:

    Amazingly bad.
    The arrow passing behind the riders head, with “con Series” tops it all for me.