Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Now Available on CD -- Maestro Classics: Carnival of the Animals (Review)

Over 50 National Awards ...

A "Stories in Music" CD for Narrator, Soloists, and Orchestra 
Featuring the London Philharmonic Orchestra 
Stephen Simon, Conductor 

"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.

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 Chen and 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.

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."

Check out the Maestro Classics website
, which contains a wealth of advice and activities designed to help families incorporate classical music into their lives, at"
My Thoughts:
I have been a fan of classical music since being introduced to it by my science teacher in middle school.  She would play this music while we took exams, as a way to help us relax and concentrate better.  I couldn't believe how well it worked to calm you in stressful situations like exam taking.  And, as I continued through middle and high school, and then through college, I made sure to have a collection of CDs on hand to listen to when studying, or as a wind to unwind.  I have found over the years that classical music can be enjoyed by both children and adults, as I would play my CDs when babysitting my nephew or friend's children.  If they were fussy, I knew I had a magic trick up my sleeve.  And, once I began playing the classical music, they would quiet down and listen along with me.

So, when I heard that Maestro Classics was releasing a new classical music CD entitled Carnival of the Animals, I couldn't wait to pick up a copy and share with my daughters.  I have a handful of their other CDs, which the girls love.  And, when we are not listening to them together, I find myself putting them on in the evening to relax, as I sip a glass of wine or hot tea.  Now, I can't say this for other kid-friendly music, which after 1-2 tracks, I am all set with it.  What makes this new release from Maestro Classics so great is that it not only introduces little ears to classical music, but does so in a fun way.  With this CD, children listen and meet the animals of the Animal Kingdom, like elephants, lions, kangaroos and even wild donkeys.  When all these animals get together, it makes for beautiful music.   Click here to listen to a sampling of what I am talking about --  You will have to click on the Carnival of the Animals album cover to listen to the mp3 sample.  But, I have a feeling that after you listen to it, you will want to pick up a copy to share with your children.  :-)  Children will love listening to this new release in the car, and will have some wonderful facts about the animals of the wild to share with Grandma and Grandpa, after they are done listening to the Carnival of the Animals.  My nephew couldn't stop talking about the elephant and how his teeth were outside his mouth and upside down. :-)  I wonder what your little ones will find fascinating after listening to this CD. And, with the holidays right around the corner, this and other Maestro Classics CDs would make for great stocking stuffers, or to have on hand for those long car rides to visit the relatives.  Both parents and children will enjoy listening to this entertaining collection of classical music. You can choose to listen to the title track with or without narration, which is great when you are looking for quiet, yet soothing way to put children to sleep. :-) Click here to visit the Maestro Classics website and browse their collection of music available for purchase online -- Disclosure:  I was sent a sample of this CD from the vendor in order to write up an honest review.  The views above are mine and mine alone.

1 comment :

  1. I would love to get this CD for my son. Thank you for the review!