Thursday, November 01, 2007

The art of the album sleeve


Above is the box design for the 1980 LP release of Supraphon's Martinů Symphonies, which I wrote about recently. The gorgeous typography is by Miroslav Jiránek. It, literally, graphically reminds us of what we lost when the CD replaced the LP.

This Sunday Nov 4 I will be playing Martinů's Fourth Symphony on my Future Radio programme at 5.00pm UK time. Preceeding it will be another Czech rarity, Krystof Harant's Missa quinis vocibus. This dates from the early seventeenth century, and the exuberant performance by the Prague Madrigalists directed by Miroslav Venhoda should not invoke the silence detector.

The Harant Mass is a mid-price Supraphon re-release. The recording was made in 1971 for LP release, and Miroslav Venhoda died in 1987. The early recording date, which predates much early music scholarship, probably explains why the musicians sound as though they are really enjoying themselves. The CD inlay by Jan Alton Design is below. This very well illustrates the compromises dictated by the CD format. The Harant design does its job. The Martinů could be out of the Museum of Modern Art.


Graphics matter, which is why this book is important.
* Listen via the audio stream here on Sunday Nov 4 at 5.00pm UK time. Convert Overgrown Path radio on-air times to your local time zone using this link. Windows Media Player doesn't like the audio stream very much and takes ages to buffer. WinAmp or iTunes handle it best. Unfortunately the royalty license doesn't permit on-demand replay, so you have to listen in real time. If you are in the Norwich, UK area tune to 96.9FM.Any copyrighted material on these pages is included as "fair use", for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of copyright owner(s). Report broken links, missing images and other errors to - overgrownpath at hotmail dot co dot uk

5 comments:

k.hobday said...

Strangely, Norwich has a strong connection with the 4th Symphony of Martinu already. In 2000, I played in the premiere of the new critical edition of Martinu 4 with the University of East Anglia Symphony Orchestra. Sharon Choa, performance director at UEA, is a devotee of Martinu's music and conducted the first performance of her new edition. In an interesting path, the Czech Phil recorded the new edition in 2003 under Jiri Belohlavek (SU 3631-2, very dull artwork). Maybe Jiri will devote more time to Martinu with the BBC Symphony Orchestra once he devotes more time to the BBC Symphony Orchestra...

Pliable said...

Beautifully put, Keith.

Both about the Martinu, and about the elusive Mr. Belohlavek.

As well as playing a mean violin Keith is also Assistant Manager of one of the UK's top independent CD stores, Prelude Records. Do visit and support them - http://www.preluderecords.co.uk/

Scott said...

Looking forward to the program today. I did in fact install WinAmp. (Earlier today, I had a leisurely breakfast while Win MediaPlayer was buffering.)

One question - is Future Radio only a mono stream? That's what WinAmp is telling me, and I can see no way to change it. Thanks ...

Pliable said...

Scott, the Station Manager at Future Radio replies as follows:

Yes we are just running a mono stream, to reduce the audio complexity a little and ensure a continuous upload can be sustained at our end.

It would be nice to run a higher bit rate stream, but due to contention ratios and the like we found it was hard to maintain and became frustrating for listeners!

Thanks for the feedback though, all the best,

Tom Buckham

Scott said...

Thanks. I appreciate the response.