What It Is:
This CD is a journey through the music of Peter and the Wolf composed by Sergei Prokofiev. The CD begins with an introduction of the characters in the story and also tells which musical instruments depict them. Peter and the Wolf is a story about a boy names Peter, who decides to disobey his grandfather and go play on the other side of the garden wall. A wolf comes by from the forest and Peter, with the help of a duck, bird, and cat try to capture the wolf.
The stage and the scenes are set, and the orchestra begins to play.
The London Philharmonic Orchestra does an amazing job playing this approximately 21 minute piece. When the piece starts, there are pauses when the narrator adds the story. This only happens every few minutes, it is not a constant or distracting narrative.
The information that the narrator gives is perfectly paces with the music and story. It is a beautifully played piece, with lots of emotion and feeling. When the piece is finished there is a chapter with extensive background on Prokofiev. He was born a Russian, immigrated to America, settled in France, and then ended up moving back to Russia. This narration is fascinating and complete with sounds effects.
The conductor narrates a section, explaining how each character in the story has its own musical theme, and gives examples of how this these is threaded throughout the piece. The themes also change as the story progresses; the music speeds up when the wolf is running away and then changes when the duck gets too close to the wolf.
Finally, the piece is played again in its entirety without any breaks. Before it plays, the listener is encourages to sit and listen; using their imagination to "see" what is happening in the story.
At the very end is a short musical piece, which is a fun, musical party piece. The entire CD is 68 minutes long.
How We Used This and What We Thought:
All three girls sat down with me to listen to this. It was the perfect length, and we divided it into two listening periods. I really enjoyed learning more about the piece and the background of the composer. I also really appreciated knowing the musical themes for each character, and then hearing it in the actual piece.
Inside the CD is a small booklet. This booklet has more information on the composer and different Russian instruments. And there are pages of fun activities: crossword puzzles, musical instrument matching, word searches, and code puzzles. My younger two had a blast going through the booklet and completing the pages.
Be warned, the duck does meet its demise, by ending up in the wolf's stomach. And Peter does talk to the animals and they understand him. This CD was the perfect rainy afternoon project. And I really liked that at one point, the piece was played in its entirety.
Other members of The Crew reviewed Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker; click below to see what they thought.