Thursday, October 6, 2011

Nonesuch audio & visual bliss...

A fine example of the Nonesuch package back in the day...with the familiar cover designs by William S. Harvey, and this particular artwork by Edward Sorel. I picked this up in the late 80's, special ordered at a mom and pop store. Even then the owner thought I was weird, wanting vinyl...I played the stuffin' out of it in the height of my mania for sacred choral music. It is, alas, unplayable now.

On another blog I recently wrote of how Bach's Magnificat impacted me mightily as a young boy. I hear the opening measures now and I still go "Wow!". Back then it was akin to an out-of-body experience. I hadn't heard anything so powerful and well-crafted before, and it gripped me and shook me. It was, as the above, a Nonesuch cut-out, I picked up for $2.99 most likely.

Nonesuch H-71091 Artwork by Donald Leake

New, beautiful sounds were like giant, floating, cosmic pearls to me as a kid, and the many record bins at Master's (later Modells) in Centereach were my oysters. The most opalescent were the budget-priced cut-outs from Nonesuch; with their brilliantly colored baroque-meets-psychedelia artwork,  exuberant performances of lesser known masterworks, and the fascinating liner notes a boy like me could get lost in for a while.

An equal sonic punch was delivered to me by their release of Bach's Cantata 140 "Wachet Auf..."; it's spiritual value as compelling as it's aural. I remember gazing at the cover intently, while the stately, dotted figures of that grand opening movement announced to me: "Here comes music from another world." I own neither album now, I keep an eye out for a bargain on ebay or Amazon from time to time. No matter, the feelings still reside within me.

Nonesuch H-71132 Artwork by Donald Leake

By now some readers know my devotion to Bach, Vivaldi and even Handel. Tucked back in a curious corner of my mind is an inquisitiveness about and an open ear for Telemann. I'm ever impressed by his super-human output, I mean the man has 600 Ouvertures alone! Almost mocking the 4 similar Suites that Bach left us. Handel 'borrowed' liberally from them, and Bach transcribed 2 of his concertos for keyboard.

In his time, he was first choice before Bach at any gig offering, turning down the job at Leipzig that Bach then held for the rest of his life. Right or wrong, these things I can't overlook - and in the last few weeks, I've given him a lot of spins on the hard-drive turntable. He is his own man, and yet can be overlooked for the more obvious and concentrated powers of his more famous contemporaries - a justification they might have appreciated to see, at least secretly. (Bach and Telemann were friends.)

Well anyway, my thoughts on Telemann brought me to remembering some fine moments I had just a few years ago, listening to the above pictured albums on my little Handy Trax turntable. Today, I listened to the blue one with the moths, and had a grand old time! Got me to thinking about Nonesuch... and my endless musings on marketing, and what makes these covers such a success.

I think there is something to be said for formula, if you've got a good one. Naxos cds follow a very similar pattern; in artwork presentation, making unfamiliar titles available, and in budget price (at least formerly). Even Impulse Records work with one theme for their art, with black and orange and passionate photography. Each one is new yet familiar!

(also a pioneer in world music) is still around, not making budget classical releases, mind you - and under the Warner umbrella. Thanks for shtoppin' by :) - KM


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