I’ve managed 9 months with MusicBrainz before addressing this thorny issue…
Is this classical or not: https://musicbrainz.org/release/cbb883b5-dd08-4953-84b1-bfe7ed60e1ca ?
Should I care? Why should MusicBrainz?
The current entry is completed as if it were not a classical album. Undoubtedly it is cross-over. The Hilliard Ensemble are a classical outfit, but Jan Garbarek is jazz. The consequence of this treatment is that the original source of the music is sometimes lost and rather inconsistent. Most (but not all) of the composers are anonymous/traditional and detailed information is given in the CD booklet. Some of these have been given by associated “works”, but not all - e.g, track 1-4 is attributed to “16thC Scotland” in the CD booklet and track 1 to “Anonymous (Peru)”, but no mention on the MB listing. Track 6 lists a “composer” of “St Albans of Great Dunmow”. Clearly no such person existed (they are just two places 40 miles apart - the booklet lists the source as “St Albans / Great Dunmow” without further elaboration). Track 2-8 has the source as “Iroquois & Padleirmiut fragments” - the MB entry includes this in the recording title, similarly track 2-7 “16th Century Russia”.
So the treatment is inconsistent, but I do not blame the editor as it is not at all clear how to enter a release such as this when following the non-classical style. Ideally the “source” of the work would be clear, whether it is composed or traditional/anonymous and, if the latter, the place of origin (if known).
If the entry had been made in the “classical” style, then the “source” would be in the Artist entry, with an “as-credited” entry to reflect the release notes - e.g. “[traditional]” credited as “16th century Scotland”. This would also obviate the need for introducing rather artificial “works” and “composers”. It seems to me that the classical style would follow the intention of the release better. However the artificial classical/non-classical style divide seems to have led the editor the other way, resulting in a bit of a mess.
I’d appreciate some comments before messing with it!