Steinweiss at his best is easy. The early 10 inch covers are just good, but the 12 inch 78 sets are brilliant. From about 1945 to about 1948 his work was amazing. The recent book concentrates on that period, and for good reason. Anyone who missed it should go back and look at my posts from January to March 2011. He did good work again in all periods, and was especially fertile on Decca in the late 1960s, holding his own with the brilliant new designers of that period. All imho.
But the question is, how mediocre can a cover be and still be a Steinweiss? Often I will hold up a cover for a long-suffering member of my household, and ask them if they think it is Steinweiss. After all, the majority of his covers are not signed. And often, my wife or a kid will say it can’t be him because it isn’t good enough.
Here is the very low end of a signed Steinweiss. The first of these – Reginald Kell, DL 9732, is signed Piedra Blanca. If it wasn’t signed, I wonder if I would have thought it was him. Typical classical cover – picture of the featured performer. Nice use of fonts, including one reminiscent of Steinweiss’ signature on the great Columbias of the 40s. The stripe in the middle is cute, and the use of a plus sign is a trademark of Steinweiss. But still, is this a good cover? Would you want to buy this album if it was competing with other recordings of clarinet concerti?
The rest of these covers are of unknown provenance. I don’t know if they are Steinweiss, but they could be. Each has a few nice touches, but none is great. What is the minimum for a Steinweiss?