Thursday, October 29, 2015

A TOS Review: Peter and the Wolf (Maestro Classics)

There is nothing like classical music. It makes me happy. I realize that not all share my enthusiasm.  And then there are those of you who want to start loving classical music (and have a desire to introduce your children to it) but are just unsure where to begin. It can be very overwhelming to sift through all of the composers, compositions and the like.

Last year we reviewed one of our favorite products. Maestro Classics presented us with Casey at the Bat and The Sorcerer’s  Apprentice to enjoy. This year we were blessed with a CD of Peter and the Wolf.  It has accompanied us on many car trips across town and occupied us through lazy afternoons.

Maestro Classics is really a special company. They have produced a classical music CD series that is intended to introduce children to the beauty and wonder of classical music. Each selection has been arranged by conductor Steven Simon. They are performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra….which is a real treat in itself.

While the music is truly the hero of our story, most compositions in the series are set to treasured children’s stories. I mentioned that we have Casey at the Bat and The Sorcerer’s Apprentice in our collection.

Peter and the Wolf has made a nice addition. Be sure to check the other compositions in their series. I had to choose between Peter and the Wolf and The Nutcracker this time around. It was a really tough choice to make. The Nutcracker is a childhood friend.

Ultimately, I decided that I couldn’t pass up Peter and the Wolf. I knew that Josiah would enjoy it immensely.

I received a physical CD, but there are mp3 downloads available if that is more your speed. I like something I can carry around with me. We do a lot of “car schooling” and I enjoy having a product I can use on the road. I also used it at home.

For example, just this afternoon Josiah and I sat in the living room and listened once again.  I knitted. He doodled. We were happy campers. Josiah said it would have been better with snacks. 

He is 13. 

Let me tell you about Peterand the Wolf.

It was composed by Russian Composer Sergei Prokofiev. At the time of this composition he was residing in the USSR (1936). It is not an understatement to say that there was a lot going on in the world.

The music itself is exciting. I think it certainly is more traditionally “Russian” in nature. One of the unique things about the Peter and the Wolf is that Prokofiev wrote a narration to accompany it.  The story revolves around Peter. And begins when he disobeys his Grandfather…

The CD was divided into several parts.

1.       Introduction
2.       Peter and the Wolf (with narration)
3.       About the Composer
4.       A Russian Peter
5.       About the Music
6.       Peter and the Wolf (without narration)
7.       Invitation to Grandfather’s Party
8.       Kalinka

The CD runs almost 70 minutes in playing time. We have listened to the whole thing a few times and then just the composition itself a few more times. I personally loved all the history given and was grateful for music education that was not only expertly done, but painless for me! 

The CD has an insert that contains all kinds of activities and information. Some of this is just repeated from the CD itself and then there is new information. We get to learn more about the Russian Folk musicians (Trio Voronezh) who can be heard on a few tracks. We learn a little bit about some of the instruments they play.

Another feature that homeschoolers might fine beneficial are the unit study pages on the website. There is a bit of everything there! I used it to further expand on Russian folk music and we looked up an artist that was a contemporary of Prokofiev. We also explored the Russian Revolution and talked about what it must have been like to live during those times.

Mostly, we just enjoyed the music. The whole CD is a treasure.

Josiah enjoyed it so much. It really is an excellent composition for boys. 

I think what I love most about Maestro Classics is that they have made it easy for me to introduce the beauty and majesty of Classical music to my son.  Not only do we get to enjoy the glorious music, but we are introduced to a variety of instruments, history and much more.

And they do it all with the excellence.

Peter the Wolf is an exciting production. I think children (and grown-ups) of all ages will enjoy it tremendously.  I know we sure have!

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Maestro Classics Review

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