Piranesi record covers


Title page for the Carceri d’Invenzione (second state), 1761.

Continuing an occasional series about artists or designers whose work has appeared on record sleeves. Giovanni Battista Piranesi (1720–1778) is a cult figure here so this is an inevitable post even if there isn’t a great deal to look at. Many of the record covers that use Piranesi etchings are for classical releases, which isn’t so surprising. The prints that comprise the Vedute di Roma were Piranesi’s most popular works, and remain so today despite their exaggerations of the true size of Rome’s monuments and ruins. But I thought the Carceri d’Invenzione (aka The Prisons) might be more popular, especially in the metal world where dark and gloomy imagery is de rigueur. There may be more examples, of course, since I’m having to rely on Discogs which doesn’t always note the work of uncredited artists. I suspect that architecture alone isn’t attractive enough for the metal hordes, however vast and tenebrous that architecture might be. The covers I’ve done for metal bands have always had to incorporate figures—human or otherwise—or some kind of occult symbolism. The most prominent musical piece based on Piranesi’s Prisons is also a classical work, one of the Bach cello suites recorded by Yo-Yo Ma in 1998. Ma’s album, Inspired By Bach, was accompanied by six films from different directors; the film for Suite No. 2, The Sound of the Carceri by François Girard, shows Ma playing the piece inside a CGI rendering of Piranesi’s colossal spaces. Copies of Girard’s film come and go on YouTube so this one may not stay around.


Luigi Dallapiccola: Il Prigioniero (1975); National Symphony Orchestra Of Washington DC, Antal Dorati.


Palestrina: Missa Aeterna Christi Munera / Oratio Jeremiae Prophetae / Motetti (1976); Pro Cantione Antiqua, London.


Tartini: Concerti Per Violino E Orchestra / Sonate (1981); P. Toso, I Solisti Veneti, C. Scimone, E. Farina.


Captivation (1994) by Tefilla.


Bach, Beethoven, Schumann (2006); Sviatoslav Richter.


Die Totenstadt (2008) by Robert Kraft.


I (2014) by Extreme Precautions.


Paragone D’Archi (2014) by Stefano Pastor & Charlotte Hug.


Leonardo Vinci: Catone In Utica (2015); Max Emanuel Cencic, Franco Fagioli, Juan Sancho, Valer Sabadus, Vince Yi, Martin Mitterrutzner, Il Pomo d’Oro, Riccardo Minasi.


To Carthage Then, I Came (2015) by Forager.


Split 7-inch single (2018) by Carved Cross / Malpas.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive
The etching and engraving archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Animating Piranesi
Carceri, thermae and candelabra
La Tour by Schuiten & Peeters
Set in Stone
Piranesi as designer
Vedute di Roma
Aldous Huxley on Piranesi’s Prisons

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