from MAESTRO CLASSICS™A Stories in Music™ CD, featuring Members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra
Stephen Simon, Conductor
Maestro Classics™, winner of 50 prestigious awards for its Stories In Music™ CD series, is dedicated to 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 beautifully illustrated, 24-page program booklets. Maestro Classics proudly released on December 6 the company’s ninth CD, a sparkling rendition of Stravinsky’s masterpiece for narrator and chamber ensemble, L’Histoire du Soldat, retold for today’s young audiences as The Soldier’s Tale (Maestro Classics, $16.98, for ages 8+ and families, run time 55 minutes).
L’Histoire du Soldat, is one of a handful of the most important and distinctive musical works of the 20th century. No child should grow up without getting to know this music, and parents who care about their children becoming culturally literate will want to take advantage of this remarkable CD. As produced by Maestro Classics, The Soldier’s Tale surmounts the stereotype that classical music is boring and 20th century music unapproachable. This album is most definitely not boring, and it is unquestionably “listener-friendly.”
The story opens with a soldier named Joseph stopping to rest by the roadside as he walks home to his village. Joseph has just taken out his violin and begun to play when an old man appears, offering to trade a mysterious book that can reveal the future in exchange for the violin. When the old man, who is really the Devil in disguise, convinces Joseph that the powers of the book can be used to gain great wealth, the soldier agrees, and the inexorable wheels of this Faustian morality play begin to turn. Joseph eventually recognizes that he has lost his family and friends, and that money does not bring happiness.
With eminent conductor Stephen Simon directing members of the London Philharmonic Orchestra and narration by Yadu (a.k.a. Dr. Konrad Czynski), The Soldier’s Tale is much more than your typical “classical music for kids” CD. Stephen Simon presents valuable information that enhances the meaning of the music. Stravinsky’s music is so accessible that it really isn’t necessary to know anything about the way it was composed in order to enjoy and appreciate its very unique sound. However, with a little background from the Maestro, young listeners can learn a great deal about how this music connects to history and culture. Even though Stravinsky was still a young man when he composed L’Histoire du Soldat, he had traveled widely, spending time in most of the cultural capitals of Europe and Russia, and had already composed music that was world famous. Maestro Simon not only paints a portrait of Stravinsky and his times, he also expands upon exactly what was in Stravinsky’s music that created so much discussion and is still so relevant to what we hear in concert halls today.
Maestro Classics recordings are available at maestroclassics.com , amazon.com, and other major distributors and retailers. In addition to The Soldier’s Tale, the Stories in Music series includes My Name is Handel: The Story of Handel’s “Water Music,” 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).
Maggie is still a little young for this CD, but I listened to it myself. If you’re child enjoys listening to a good story, he or she will enjoy this CD and I have a feeling that you will too! Listening to this story makes me think about the time before Television when people would tune into the radio to listen to stories. (At least, the way it has been depicted in movies–I was not around to witness this, ha ha!) I’d recommend it for child ages 5 and up. Just as the description states, this is the story about a soldier who is returning from war. He is stopped by the devil in disguise and tricked into believing that money will bring him happiness. This story has a great message and is filled with beautiful classical music. Its a winner with me!
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