Top critical review
on 15 May 2015
McCurry's photos for this series were mentioned by one reviewer so I feel they are fair game (I also know I won't be the most popular fellow on the block from writing this, but here goes):
What the HECK do the McCurry photos that appear as the "cover art" in this series of Bach cantatas by conducted by Gardiner have to do with this music?? I read the "explanation" on another website about the universality of the music and so people who can barely afford food to keep themselves alive (never mind ever be able to afford to purchase one of these CDs) have been chosen to "grace" the covers in this series: smudgy, dirty people, at times cloyingly photographed as though they are begging for scraps or perhaps belong on the side of milk container as missing. Art, such as Bach's is pure, this artistic decision is strange to me and insults my senses.
To stretch this artistic idea to it's ultimate conclusion, for every dirty-faced urchin that stares out at you behind a cantata disk there should be another cover image of a harried housewife from Deluth or a ginger-haired court stenographer from Copenhagen. Why not? These kind of people listen to Bach, too. But no, only exotic careworn types seem to listen to Bach and, it would appear, only those scruffs who've been given a strange airbrushed treatment. The photos are slicker than anything Vanity Fair could cook up -- the faces are "glamorized" in a strange Hollywood sort of way which, to my mind, make them even more offensive. They are almost not real people, but prototypes -- these images are fill-ins for what our bloated, soulless, smart phone-addicted selves think people from far-away places look like. I bet the performances on these discs is just great but I couldn't listen to it with the manipulation these photos represent swimming in my mind.
I wonder what Gardiner will do for his next series. How about some Handel CDs illustrated by a series of children's birthday cakes? Or CDs by Berlioz, each with a different snowglobe of the Eiffel Tower. The possibilities are limitless.