David Browne and Michele Romero
October 22, 1993 AT 04:00 AM EDT

If you think adagio is a pasta dish, you’re not alone. How do record companies snag the elusive, rock-fed, symphonically challenged listener? Answer: Weirder and wackier methods of attraction, as in the collections below. Take a minuet to check out a fugue good records. Maestro, fortissimo (crank it, dude)!

Series: Classical Underground (Counter Culture) Target Audience: Headbangers with enough hearing left to distinguish the softer passages of a symphony. Test Sample: A Beethoven collection, What Does a Deaf Guy Hear? What the Music Evokes: A dank book shoppe with dust-covered racks and snotty clerks recommending overpriced coffee-table art books-when all you want is The Entertainment Weekly Seinfeld Companion. What You Learn From the Credits: ”He wrote nine awesome symphonies.” Cover Bait: In-your-face lettering resembles obnoxious parental-advisory sticker. Grade: C

Series: 60+ (RCA Victor) Target Audience: StairMaster addicts who shop at IKEA. Test Sample: Classical Music for Home Improvements, featuring works by Copland, Sousa, and Verdi. What the Music Evokes: A scrawny, tool-belt-packing , yuppie psyching himself up to assemble a faux Shaker coffee table. What You Learn From the Credits: The fanfare of Richard Strauss’ ”Also Sprach Zarathustra” is 1:42—the length of a typical Ramones song! Related Goodies: Buy five albums and get a free poster by Al Hirschfeld. Cover Bait: Guy on the cover plucks his violin with a chain saw. Grade: B+

Series: Mad About… (Deutsche Grammophon), separate volumes devoted to Puccini, violins, and Baroque. Target Audience: StairMaster addicts who shop at L.L. Bean. Test Sample: Mad About Mozart What the Music Evokes: The sun cresting over dew-flecked meadows, as deer flee a Walden Woods-saving Don Henley. What You Learn From the Credits: One Swedish doctor uses Piano Concerto No. 21 in the labor room. Related Goodies: Answer a questionnaire and wait two months for a free Mad About… button. Cover Bait: Cartoonist Roz Chast’s gently mocking covers. Grade: A

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