Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review: Peter and the Wolf

Last year, as part of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I kept a list of my "top ten" products.  The number one product last year was from Maestro Classics -- The Tortoise and the Hare.  When I asked my kids to name their favorite product of the year, everyone mentioned this CD as well.

So this year, I was thrilled to see that they were returning as a vendor again, this time with Peter and the Wolf.

We love these CDs now absolutely as much as we did last year.  Maestro Classics seeks to integrate music and story, giving both equal importance.  They claim the series is for ages 5-12, but I think they are being far too conservative.  Last year, my three year old adored them.  My nearly 14 year old loves them.  And I love 'em too.

Peter and the Wolf -- and I agree with the statement that this is a work that every child should own -- is presented incredibly well by Maestro Classics.  Basically, the CD consists of:
  1. Introduction -- about 4 minutes, telling a bit about what we are about to hear.
  2. Peter and the Wolf -- 25 minutes, the traditional music and story, fabulously performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and narrated by Yadu.
  3. About the Composer -- 6 minutes of Bonnie Simon giving more information about Prokofiev, which includes information I didn't know prior to listening to this CD.
  4. A Russian Peter -- 2 minutes with the Peter theme being played with traditional Russian instruments, played by a trio consisting of a domra, bayan and bass balalaika.
  5. About the Music -- 6 minutes of Stephen Simon telling more about the music.  This is always the favorite section of my older kids.
  6. Peter and the Wolf, Instrumental Version -- 21 minutes of the music without the narration.  I think this is my favorite part of this CD.  We are encouraged to listen to the music telling the story.  It is a great way to listen, especially after Stephen Simon's About the Music section.
  7. and 8.  Another song by the Trio Voronezh with traditional instruments, and a fun way to end the CD
The booklet that comes with the CD is amazing too.  Among other things, there are pages about Prokofiev, about the Trio Voronezh and pages about their instruments, bios of Stephen Simon, Bonnie Simon and Yadu, and a variety of little puzzles and games including one that involves matching the instruments to the characters.

Available for $16.98 or 3 for $45, I think every one of the Maestro Classics is an invaluable method of including classical music in any family's life.  The favorite in our family is still Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel, but I'm really looking forward to pulling Casey at the Bat back out in a couple weeks when Connor is studying the poem in his lit class.

You can check out what my fellow crew-mates have to say about Maestro Classics at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive a complimentary CD from Maestro Classics.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Bonnie Ward Simon said...

I was delighted that you enjoyed our Peter and the Wolf CD. We are committed to sharing only the very best with our children and believe that great music is appropriate for ALL ages. Thanks! You really get it!

Maestro Classics said...

Hi Debra!

It's great to read about how even your older kids enjoyed our CD - thanks so much for this nice review! I'm writing this belated comment to let you know that in the months since your review we've been busy setting up a right now for Peter and the Wolf, as a matter of fact, ending on 6/13/2011) but we intend to have more giveaways in the future and grow our FB page in general, so we'd love it if you took a peek.

If you have a business page, feel free to post on our wall and we'd love to become a fan of it.

Thanks! Ruth, social media coordinator at <a href=">Maestro Classics</a>