Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Maestro Classics - Carnival of the Animals: A CD Review

NEW YORK -- Maestro Classics™, winner of over 50 prestigious awards for its Stories In Music™ CD series, proudly announces the release of the company's tenth CD for family listening, a sparkling, child-friendly rendition of Camille Saint-Saëns' famous,whimsical masterpiece for narrator, soloists, and orchestra, Carnival of the Animals. (Maestro Classics, $16.98, for ages 3+ and families, run time 70 minutes).

Lions roar, elephants dance, roosters crow at clucking hens, kangaroos leap, fish swim, wild donkeys race, xylophones clatter like fossils, clarinets cuckoo, virtuosic flutes imitate sounds of the aviary, the cello plays its famous swan song, and the tortoise does the world's slowest can-can in Saint-Saëns' musical picture gallery of the animal kingdom that also includes pianists practicing scales and some animals with long ears who are rumored to be music critics.

The Maestro Classics recording of Carnival of the Animals features the droll verse that Ogden Nash wrote for each of the work's fourteen movements, recited here by Maestro Classics' beloved narrator, Yadu(a.k.a. Dr. Konrad Czynski).

With eminent conductor Stephen Simon directing the London Philharmonic Orchestra, stellar contributions by pianists Wendy Chenand Donna Kwong, a lovely interpretation of the French folk song "Au Clair de la Lune" by soprano Rachel Barham, and intriguing observations by Stephen Simon and "elucidator" Bonnie Ward Simon, in addition to a French/English interactive singing project and activities offered in a beautifully illustrated, 24-page program booklet, this recording of Carnival of the Animals will be treasured forever by children and adults alike.

Notes Bonnie Ward Simon, "The story goes that in 1950, America's pioneer pops conductor, André Kostelanetz, noticed that no one in the audience was smiling when he performed Carnival of the Animals.  They thought that all classical music should be serious!  He was so taken aback that he personally commissioned Ogden Nash to write verses to go with the music so that audiences would understand that Saint-Saëns intended the music to be funny.  Generations of children now remember the pianos roaring like lions and couplets like 'Elephants are useful friends, Equipped with handles at both ends,' as part of a wonderful childhood experience with music."

My Review:

Carnival of the Animals is one of my favorite pieces of classical music, especially in my work in early childhood education. It is not only a beautiful piece of music but you can use it to build on all areas of ECE curriculum. So when the opportunity arose recently to review Maestro Classics recent release of Carnival of the Animals, I was all over it.

This particularly CD has a few extras with it, including spoken word by Ogden Nash, a sing-a-long song background information about the composer, Camille Saint-Saens, and more. The booklet included has all the verses spoken by Nash, and is nicely organized and brightly colored as well.

If you have a person in your life that not only loves classical music but also exposing children to a variety of music, look no further than Maestro Classics! They have several CD's including this one, that would be delightful Christmas gifts this season.

BUY IT: You can purchase Carnival of the Animals from Maestro Classics 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***

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