Sex, Duds and Classical?

This photograph of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony manuscript, bearing extensive revisions, corrections and alterations by the composer, was released in New York by Sotheby's auction house, Friday, May 9, 2003. The manuscript will go up for action on May 22 in London. (AP Photo/Sotheby's)
If your thing is a scantily clad pouting female musician, forget MTV. Because the place to find that sort of display is increasingly the CLASSICAL world ... and there's a reason.

You see, the record industry has run out of classical music.

How many times can you record Tchaikowsky's 1812, or Mozart's Eine Kleine Nacht Music, before you overload the market? And how many versions of these wonderful classics can a record store carry? Be honest, if you're looking for a recording of Mendohlsson's Italian Symphony, won't you be tempted to reach for the five dollar CD from an unknown Eastern European Orchestra, rather than the twenty buck version by The Boston Symphony?

Of course you will. That's not to say that the new and brilliant recording of the Beethoven Symphonies by Simon Rattle and The Vienna Philharmonic isn't doing well -- it is, and it will sell for the next ten years. But now no one else is going to be recording Beethoven for a long long time. And classical isn't like pop…. endlessly coming up with new material. Mozart, Beethoven and Haydn won't be churning out any more winners. But orchestras exist to record as well as perform live, and record companies exist to release those recordings, so what to do?

Well, they've decided to try to reinvent the classical experience. Out go the stiff wing collars and the big frocks and in come the ripped T-shirts and the thongs. And it works just like the rock business did with all those boy bands, from The Osmonds onwards. Take a young, half decent looking and it has to be said, fairly cheap musician… fix his teeth and get him to lose a few pounds. Then make sure the hair looks good and slide him into incredibly tight fitting costumes, held together with the best of intentions ……take the glamorous photographs and set up a world tour.

This all started with the violinist Vanessa Mae walking out of the sea wearing soaking wet silk for no good reason other than she looked terrific. Of course she plays a mean violin too. Now there's The Opera Babes, Bond and many more are on their way. Of course, the purists sniff and sneer at this new approach. But if it gets today's kids to enjoy the music their grandparents loved, what's wrong with that?

Besides, the story goes that Mozart rather enjoyed scantily clad ladies in his productions, so maybe nothing's new.
By Simon Bates