The Classical, The Pop, The Amateurish

By and · Date 03/31/2016

For our series Design Review, we ask design professionals from outside the classical music industry to look at the visual side of things and give us their honest opinions. These comments resulted from a conversation between Laura Knoops and Hélène Mailloux last week, who looked at recently released CDs from 2015–2016.

Tõnu Kõrvits: Mirror (ECM)

A minimalistic, almost experimental album cover. It’s surprising that it’s for a chamber orchestra, because we don’t feel it in the visual. There’s definitely an influence from rock or pop culture.

Mozart: Violin Sonatas, K. 301, 304, 379 & 481 (Hyperion)

This one uses architectural elements, but seemingly without any justification for them. The fonts are all on top of each other. And what is the link between the colors and the music? Our reaction in a nutshell: ouch.

Du Fay: Les messes à teneur (Musique en Wallonie)

A more literal, classic cover. The illustration probably refers to the time when the music was written, the Renaissance. The performer information is written on what looks like a stave, but there are only four lines instead of five—we felt like we were grasping at straws a bit here.

Elgar: Symphony No. 1 in A-Flat Major, Op. 55 (Decca)

Our impression was that this one was showing us the composer [it’s the conductor, Daniel Barenboim]. The font really says, This is classical music. Like the Mozart Violin Sonatas album, it features pink, which seems to be pretty popular right now.

Beethoven: Piano Trios (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

Everybody knows Beethoven’s face. It looks like an updated version of a period image. Not having heard the album, we would guess that they play in period style.

Water (Deutsche Grammophon)

This album works with the codes of pop music. The performer is displayed as an idol, a star. You don’t learn anything about the interpreter, though—it’s only her face that comes through.

Paganini, Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Respighi: Orchestral Works (Naxos)

We really didn’t like this one, but it’s hard to say why. It’s very amateurish. It could be the poster for a reggae concert. ¶