Let's take a break from the more serious stuff! Today I give you.... the ten funniest classical album covers ever!
- Dvorak Overtures, performed by the Vienna State Opera Orchestra
A classic Westminster Gold cover. The link to the pieces is... shall I say tenuous? No, I'll be honest. I'm struggling to understand the relevance, entirely. Perhaps this is the ideal music for yoga?
- Easy To Handel, Opera Swing Quartet
Try to imagine the scene. The cover designer has a brainwave... let's get a big bust of Handel, get the guys to wear gardening gloves, and a sack truck, and gurn at the camera! Guaranteed winner!
- All The Lonely People, Christian Lindberg
Being the father of a trombone player, I do understand the existential angst that accompanies this peculiar calling, but poor old Christian is really hamming it up with the orphan look, squished down onto a tiny stool, with an expression that says: please be my friend! I know I emit gallons of slobber all over the floor, and I'm wearing my sister's white socks, but I'm ever so nice really.
- The Best of Brahms, William Steinberg and The Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra
Tchaikovsky had a low opinion of Brahms, calling him a "giftless bastard". I suspect in his will he prophetically decreed that should a collection of Brahms ever find its way onto record, it be depicted as a seething mass of overcooked cholesterol, that only the most deeply hungover individual could countenance ingesting.
- Holst's Planets, conducted by Sir Adrian Boult
I have no words. This was the picture that gave me the idea for this post. I'll just let the album cover do the speaking. As the kids say: "Just wow."
- Herbert Von Karajan conducts the Berlin Philharmonic in Richard Strauss' Ein Heldenleben
This is evidence that HVK and Gary Numan are in fact brothers, and share the same wardrobe manager. The disco scene is also deeply redolent of the 19th century dance culture in which the composer immersed himself, and to which he alludes in this autobiographical masterpiece.
- Barenboim plays Beethoven's 3rd Piano Concerto
Were it not so painfully sexist, this could be funny... Yes, yes, we get the joke. Bust... har har har. No you can't do it. No... what's that? It's gone to the printer already? Oh.
- Modern Cello Works, with the London Sinfonietta, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen
I confess to being rather keen on Finnish modernism, when it comes to art. Atmospheric, slightly bleak palate, quintessentially northern lighting. But Donald Duck in a smoking jacket? That's de trop, for me, I'm afraid.
- Harpsichord Music by Bach, Handel, and Newman
At first glance, this is just weird. Perhaps Colombia Records were exploring a nascent relationship with the Natural Law Party? However, all become clear, when we realise that the conductor's own work, 'Chimaeras I & II', are expected by the composer to be experienced 'on many psychic levels, from the literal to the subconscious'. Suddenly everything makes sense. Man.
- Anna Moffo sings Bellini, Donizetti, Rossini and Verdi
This is what happens when you let a work experience child with access to Shutterstock design your album covers. Dunno what those songs are, never 'eard of 'em, but sounds Italian. What's Italian? Pizza? Diving footballers? Pasta? Yeah... pasta! ....search.... ...copy... ...paste... aaand LUNCH!
Stephen Nelson-Smith is founder and principal consultant at Expressive Audio, in Chichester, West Sussex. He has a large collection of, mostly not-very-funny, classical records.