You can’t judge a book by its cover. CDs, on the other hand…

The once popular but now defunct classical music blog Proper Discord used to feature, from time to time, CD covers judged by the author to be ugly, or silly, or in some other way ill-advised.  These features were titled: “What were they thinking?”

I was reminded of this while perusing iTunes for recordings of Robert Schumann’s symphonies.  I came across the recordings made by John Eliot Gardiner and the Orchestre Revoutionnaire et Romantique, which are astoundingly good (of course, I usually prefer period instrument ensembles, so I may be biased).  I thought the cover was a little on the silly side of snooty.  “Gardiner must have a rather high opinion of himself,” I thought.  But my immediately ensuing thought was “who cares what’s on the cover?”  The image on the cover will not alter the quality of the recording.  Besides, if any conductor deserves to have an ego, it’s Gardiner.

Yet, as Proper Discord illustrates, quite a lot of people do allow what’s on the cover to influence their opinion of a recording.  “But” you say, “PD was just having a bit of fun!  Loosen up, musicalbeef!”  That may be.  But the frequency of the feature, the large number of recordings indicted in a feature, and the popularity of these features, as demonstrated by the number of comments they accrued, indicate to me that superficiality really is the name of the game these days.


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