These classical and light orchestral recordings on the UK Fontana label recycle material originally released in the late 1950s, notably from Vanguard Records, an American label started in 1950 (but known primarily for their folk records of the 1960s). Vanguard had both released new recordings of their own but also in turn licensed tapes from Britain. It all gets very incestuous!
Fontana decided to come up with a new series of what I believe were mid-price releases in the early 1960s (though none have the exact copyright date, perhaps in a deliberate attempt to disguise their earlier origins). There were both mono recordings (BIG 300L with at least 24 titles) and stereo (BIG 400Y with at least 20). These Fontana editions date from the early 1960s.
What makes them interesting are the great fashion themed sleeves, one of the earliest attempts in the UK to break away from the traditional somewhat staid use of landscapes and other photographic images on classical LPs. And these were no stock images either. The covers were taken by Lidbrooke (who took images of Henry Moore in the 1950s), and are full studio shoots, complete with a different prop theme on each one. Thus the Pictures From An Exhibition sees the use of empty picture frames suspended round the model, and the Violin Concerto – well, you get the idea. Quite what the pigeon has to do with Bonbons I haven’t yet worked out.
And the models (there appear to be two women used for all the covers) aren’t wearing any old rags either – the outfits were designed by famous fashion names of the period including Frank Usher (founded in the 1940s but still going strong – with three figure prices now paid for vintage pieces), Susan Small (a ready-to-wear name again begun in the 40s) and Robert Dorland (a London designer who began in the 1950s).
Both they and the photographer get full credits on the back covers (which are the usual white card with black print).
It would be interesting to know how the shoot was organised as a fair amount of planning must have been involved to get the props hired in, the frocks delivered, and so forth. And with up to 50 covers, it probably took a couple of days as well. Any more details would be welcome.