Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Maestro Classics - Peter and the Wolf: A Review

May 2007 - In just three years, Magic Maestro Music® has built an international reputation for its acclaimed Stories in Music™ series of “new classics for narrator and symphony orchestra.” From the first release of Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, the classic baseball epic of Casey at the Bat, two versions of the delightfully zany Juanita the Spanish Lobster, to the best-selling Sorcerer’s Apprentice, Magic Maestro Music has developed a new genre in children‟s music. 

Now, Magic Maestro Music fortifies this strong auditory foundation with an all-new recording of 
the work that inspired it all: Peter and the Wolf.  Prokofiev‟s classic composition, designed to introduce children to the instruments of the orchestra, comes to life in an all-new Stories in Music production. 

Maestro Classics‟ Peter and the Wolf features performances by the London Philharmonic Orchestra
(conducted by Stephen Simon) with two additional tracks by the remarkable Russian-American Trio 
Voronezh. Engaging narration by Yadu, the famous storyteller, and information about the composer and the instruments, make this an especially child-friendly release.

As executive producer Bonnie Ward Simon explains, the time is right to apply the “learn to listen” 
format of Stories in Music to Peter and the Wolf, beloved by children the world over. “We wanted to take the work beyond a simple performance… setting it in its historical perspective, including explanations by the conductor on what to listen for, setting the major theme in a different musical genre, and including a participatory track. Peter and the Wolf, the greatest of all works for narrator and orchestra, deserved such attention.”

The exceptional playing by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, recorded with the world‟s finest 
and most up-to-date technology at the Abbey Road Studios in London, offers children the opportunity to hear one of the world‟s greatest orchestras. (This is the studio and orchestra that recorded all the music for the Harry Potter movies.) An instrumental-only track, without narration, gives listeners the opportunity to relish the sonorous melodies of Prokofiev‟s composition.

While its appeal is international, Peter and the Wolf is a deeply Russian composition. “We 
wanted to bring Peter back to his Russian roots,” explains Bonnie Simon, who discovered Trio Voronezh after listening to an interview with them on Public Radio.  The Trio, which has also performed on national television, is originally from Russia but now living in Oregon, and are regulars at the annual Oregon Bach Festival. They recorded two exclusive tracks for Peter and the Wolf:  “A Russian Peter” (Peter‟s theme) and the dance tune for the ending party at Grandfather‟s house: “Kalinka,” employing a delightful array of Russian instruments – the domra, the bayan and bass balalaika.

The enclosed 24-page program book includes a biography of Prokofiev, information about the 
Russian instruments, the music for Peter‟s theme tune, background information about the performers, a crossword puzzle and other fun activities. The package‟s distinctive artwork is by noted children‟s book illustrator Salley Mavor, who creates fanciful hand-sewn cloth art.

Magic Maestro Music® is the ambassador of great music for both children and adults, helping listeners experience the art form of symphonic music in new and exciting ways. Stories in Music™ is the brainchild of conductor and composer Stephen Simon and music educator/producer Bonnie Ward Simon. 

The programs originally premiered as part of their Washington Chamber Symphony‟s family concert 
series at the Kennedy Center. Together with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and other stellar 
performers, the Simons are producing a landmark series of recordings that offer families superb 
musicianship and carefully crafted products. With Stories in Music¸ the Simons aim to help children 
expand their listening horizons, develop listening skills, build musical memories and encourage adults 
and children to share music together.

The four previous Stories in Music audio classics, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, Casey at 
the Bat, Juanita the Spanish Lobster (in English or Spanish versions) and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice have won numerous awards and acclaim.

For more information, visit Maestro Classics at  www.maestroclassics.com or call toll-free:1-888-
540-2811. The Stories in Music™  series is available from Allegro/NewSound, Baker & Taylor, Amazon, and other major distributors and retailers. Suggested retail price for each title is $16.98.

My Review:

Peter and the Wolf by Sergei Prokofiev is one of my absolute favorite pieces of classical music, especially for young children. What I love best about it is that it involves so many areas of learning with one simple listen of the piece. A number of years ago I designed an Introduction to Classical Music curriculum for the child care centre I was working at and one of the pieces I used was this one. I incorporated math, science, art, dramatic play and other areas to teach children the piece, and they absolutely loved it.

Now, I have even more resources to add to this curriculum with Maestro Classics Peter and The Wolf. I love that the included activity book has so many fun ways for children to learn not only about the piece through listening to it but actively participating in other ways. The pictures in the book are great, and I love that you learn about the composer as well. One thing that I have done was collect pieces of clothing, or material that imitate the characters/animals in the story and then the kids can act out the story of Peter and the Wolf. I have a feathery sweater for the duck, a Fedora type hat for Grandpa, a little boys vest for Peter and more. This has provided the children with hours of fun. This is definitely one piece of music that will be listened to over and over through the years, I can be certain of that. It has been wonderful to see my children being able to identify the various instruments in the piece and relate them to the characters as well. There have been a number of films adapted to the music over the years, including Disney's Peter and the Wolf. A great piece for all families for sure.

I highly recommend this CD and give it a huge thumbs up.

BUY IT: You can purchase Peter and the Wolf from Maestro Classics online here

***I received a complimentary copy of the above 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***

1 comment:

  1. You find these CDs and can listen to them at www.MaestroClassics.com.