Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf / Beintus: Wolf Tracksby Kent Nagano
This is just goofy enough to be a lot of fun. The project originated with the Russian National Orchestra and its conductor, Kent Nagano, who spent time in California and there developed a reputation for innovative programming. Here, Prokofiev's classic tale of "Peter and the Wolf" is paired with a modern take on the story, with new music by the French composer Jean-Pascal Beintus and narration by none other than Bill Clinton. Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, a patron of the orchestra since the days of its founding as Russia's first modern symphonic ensemble free from government control, introduces the project on the disc and reads (in Russian, followed by English translations) a short intermezzo and conclusion emphasizing the need to conserve wildlife habitat. Several things need to be said here, one of which is that if you're looking for a good recording of "Peter and the Wolf," you might do well to consider this one even amid all the competition out there -- Sophia Loren is an absolutely delightful narrator. It's easy to imagine her performance becoming a treasured keepsake of a child's. Clinton is no Sophia Loren, and apparently if you're the former President of the United States no one tells you when you mispronounce "bravado." But he's always good for a smile. And finally, the modernized "Wolf Tracks," which features the grandson of the original Peter setting off to track the wolf but becoming convinced of the error of his ways, would be less likely to make someone into an environmentalist than would Prokofiev's original work, with its marvelously evocative natural scenes. Proceeds from the disc are being donated to charities selected by the narrators and to the Wolf Conservation Center.
- Release Date:
- Peter and the Wolf & Wolf Tracks, commentary (spoken): Prologue
- Peter and the Wolf, children's tale for narrator & orchestra, Op. 67
- Peter and the Wolf & Wolf Tracks, commentary (spoken): Intermezzo
- Wolf Tracks, for narrator & orchestra
- Peter and the Wolf & Wolf Tracks, commentary (spoken): Epilogue
Performance CreditsKent Nagano Primary Artist
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Introduced by Mikhail Gorbachev and narrated by Sophia Loren and Bill Clinton (who will donate their royalties to charities) these two musical stories come alive in familiar voices particularly relevant to a new century. The storytellers here - one relaxed and convivial, the other elegant and beguiling - lend a special intimacy that transcends age and nationality. Apparent immediately is that both understand how to talk to children, with warmth and candor, as if children were in the room. Nothing here is cute, condescending or silly; there is not a trace of the hyperbolic, manufactured emotion so common to most audio/video productions for children now, only respect and the natural parity of storytellers and listeners having a good time. The liner booklet, illustrated by orphaned and disabled Moscow children in tasty candy colors, features insightful but easy reading about all involved, including The Wolf. The two stories brilliantly complement each other, and yet both narratives stand on their own. “Peter and the Wolf” is well known, but the new “Wolf Tracks” offers an equally engaging tonal world. Like Prokofiev, Beintus crafts music with enough complexity to pull a child in, but not so much that he or she can’t find a place in its own richly hued landscape, a place so real they can smell woodland breezes, hear paws in tender grasses. Both, as rendered by this always superb orchestra, guarantee imagination-ignition in any kid’s brain within ten bars.