In today’s busy world, the quality of time spent together as a family takes on tremendous importance. Maestro Classics™, winner of more than 45 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.On August 24th, Maestro Classics proudly released their 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 Simon, My 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 (http://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).
Wow! Okay, I have to admit that when I looked at this CD I was thinking it was just another classical music CD. Boy was I wrong! This CD takes you on a great adventure as you learn about George Frideric Handel. I had never heard the name Handel before I listened to this CD (or at least, I don’t remember hearing that name), but I have certainly heard a lot of his music! I found it so fascinating to listen to how he got started and when and why he composed his classic Water Music. The narrator is easy to listen to and really draws you into this story. Paired with beautiful classical music, this CD is a must-have!
I’ve already passed this CD along to my Grandmother who was eager to listen to it! It would make a great addition to your homeschooling curriculum as well! Now I really want to own the other titles from Maestro Classics!
One lucky blog reader will win their own copy of this CD!
*This is not a paid posting. Thanks to the company for the complimentary review and giveaway items.*