Monday, December 12, 2011

My Name Is Handel - A Maestro Classics CD Review

In today’s busy world, the quality of time spent together as a family takes on tremendous importance.  Maestro Classics™, winner of 50 prestigious awards for its Stories In Music™ CD series, is dedicated to upgrading family time by creating recordings that offer memorable listening experiences for the whole family -- albums where uncompromisingly great performances are woven into enchanting narratives, supplemented by expanded commentary and activities in attractively designed booklets with exquisite illustrations. Maestro Classics proudly announces the release of the company’s eighth CD, My Name is Handel: The Story of Handel’s “Water Music” (Maestro Classics, $16.98, for ages 7+ and families, run time 49 minutes).

My Name is Handel transports listeners to early 18th century London, where George Frideric Handel, the brilliant young German composer, has established residence. Handel’s erstwhile employer, the Elector of Hanover, has just succeeded to the throne of England to become King George I.  As a true showman’s response to the announcement of a royal boat trip on the River Thames, Handel composes a suite of dances, hires a boat and 50 musicians, and heads down the river to surprise the King. The music Handel wrote for this occasion has become known as "Water Music," one of the composer’s best-loved works. The story of this tuneful adventure serves as the engaging backdrop for a multifaceted exploration of Handel’s career and a musical response to the question, “How did a German become England’s most famous composer?”   With eminent conductor Stephen Simon directing the London Philharmonic Orchestra, renowned Baroque soprano Julianne Baird and baritone James Shaffran, narration by Yadu (a.k.a. Dr. Konrad Czynski), and intriguing observations by Maestro Classics co-founder Bonnie Ward SimonMy Name is Handel is much more than your typical “classical music for kids” CD.

In an age when caring parents choose finely crafted wood toys over plastic, it seems natural for them to also choose musical and artistic products that encourage children to develop discriminating taste.   Unfortunately, many recordings of classical music designed for children are done on a budget that does not allow for world-class performances by truly great musicians and singers. The Maestro Classics Stories in Music™ series, however, features thrilling musical performances of the highest adult standards.  My Name is Handel is no exception.  The London Philharmonic Orchestra plays splendidly under the baton of Stephen Simon, who also presents valuable information that enhances the meaning of the music. Soprano Julianne Baird performs with crystalline clarity and tenderness of expression, and James Shaffron displays his burnished baritone, singing jolly faux-lyrics to the celebrated Hornpipe melody from the Water Music Suite.  Narrator Yadu has a gentle, old time style that is always easy to understand and perfectly captures the mood of the text.  Listening to him is like listening to a favorite uncle present a well rehearsed family narrative.  Maestro Classics co-founder Bonnie Ward Simon’s descriptions of musical life in the London of Handel’s day are as engagingly child-friendly and fun-filled as they are illuminating.

Altogether, there is no detail that has escaped the cultured eyes and ears of the Simon team, including beautiful illustrations by Martin Millard incorporated into a 24-page booklet carefully designed by Bonnie Ward Simon that is filled with information and innovative activities. Additionally, the Maestro Classics™ website (www.maestroclassics.com) contains a wealth of advice and activities designed to help families incorporate classical music into their lives.

Maestro Classics recordings are available at maestroclassics, amazon.com, and other major distributors and retailers. In addition to My Name is Handel, the Stories in Music series includes Peter and the Wolf, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Story of Swan Lake, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Casey at the Bat, and Juanita the Spanish Lobster (also available in Spanish)



My Review:


Once again I am so excited to introduce to you a way to share beautiful classical music pieces to young children in a fun and exciting way. 


Maestro Classics has taken on some of the world's most famous classical music and produced CD's that are not only educational but fun and engaging! From singing along, to hearing a history lesson about London in the times of Handel, your children will love to learn about My Name Is Handel and Handel himself.  I love that Maestro Classics has one of my favorite pieces in their collection, Peter and The Wolf, and it is one I look forward to getting for my children one day. 


The Maestro Classics website not only has information about their collection of music, but also has a fantastic section just for kids with puzzles, and other activities to do. As well there is a great section for education providers to introduce young learners to classical music in fun ways.


Definitely appropriate for children over seven years, My Name is Handel and other products from Maestro Classics is the perfect gift idea for the young music lover in your home this Christmas. 


I highly recommend this CD and give it a HUGE thumbs up!


BUY IT: You can purchase My Name Is Handel at Maestro Classics, as well as other wonderful products.


***I received a complimentary copy of this CD, courtesy of Waldmania PR, for the purpose of review on this blog. All opinions expressed are my own, and I have not been compensated in any other manner***

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