Theme and Variations

Thoughts and experiences of exploring classical, jazz, and other art music.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Peter and the Wolf


I have been listening to Peter and the Wolf alot lately as it has become one of my kids' favorites everytime they get in the car with me.
Peter in the Wolf is a musical composition for children composed by Sergei Prokofiev in 1936. It has a prominent role for a narrator who tells a Russian folk tale about a young boy who goes against his grandfather's wishes and manages to capture a wolf. There is a musical theme for each of the characters in the story using a different instrument from the orchestra.
The theme for Peter is played by the strings and is the best known of the piece. It is very catchy. In fact, it is playing in my head right now.
As for the other characters, there is a bird represented by a flute; a duck represented by an oboe; a cat represented by a clarinet; the grandfather represented by the bassoon; the wolf represented by the horns; the hunters represented by the woodwinds; and gunshots represented by the timpani.
There have been many recordings made of Peter and the Wolf over the years with a wide assortment of famous people taking the role of the narrator. Here are a few examples from the Wikipedia entry:
Arthur Godfrey
Sir John Gielgud
Leonard Bernstein
Basil Rathbone
Boris Karloff
Christopher Lee
Sean Connery
Peter Ustinov
Dudley Moore
Captain Kangaroo
David Bowie
Mia Farrow
Itzhak Perlman
Lorne Greene
Sir Alec Guiness
Jonathan Winters
Patrick Stewart
Ben Kingsley
Carol Channing
David Attenborough
Sharon Stone
William F. Buckley Jr.

And of course there was the animated Disney version that came out in 1946 and was narrated by Sterling Holloway, better know as the voice of Winnie the Pooh.

But the version I have was narrated by Sting, the former lead singer of The Police, one of my all-time favorite bands. It was recorded sometime in 1991 by Deutsche Grammophon with the Chamber Orchestra of Europe conducted by Claudio Abbado.
While I have not listened to all the other versions, I think that Sting does an exceptionally good job. He certainly holds my kids' attention. At first, the kids were indifferent to the music and wanted me to scoot up to the story-telling, but I insisted we listen to the whole piece and now they recognize the themes of the different characters and enjoy it as a whole.

15 Comments:

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Anonymous kesehatan keluarga said...

A wonderful study in human (and wolf) behavior. I esp. like the shot with the white tree, and the one with the lonely wolf. It has been many years since I was there, but I remember a sense of awe and reverence at the overwhelming surroundings. This story is so well written and thought through. voted.
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