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Enchanting Prokofiev

20 NOV 08 VIVIEN SCHWEITZER

Kids may have access to all kinds of high tech entertainment these days, but most will still be enchanted by Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf." This Telarc re-release features André Previn as the narrator, charming telling the story while the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra vividly illustrates the musical scenes and adventures.

This famous theatrical work, commissioned by the Moscow Children's Theater and often recorded with celebrity narrators, appeals to children of all ages with its whimsical assignation of different orchestral instruments to each character in the story. The flute represents the bird, for example, and the clarinet the cat.

Also included on the disc is a lively rendition of Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra" (which he also titled "Variations and Fugue on a Theme of Purcell"), another famous musical tutorial about the workings of an orchestra. Commissioned by the British Ministry of Education, it is constructed in three parts. The first highlights the full orchestra and then each section (brass, winds, strings and percussion) individually. The variations of the second section spotlight individual instruments and the work ends with a colorful fugue.

The disc concludes with a vibrant performance of Britten's "Gloriana: Courtly Dances," a suite derived from the opera he wrote for the coronation of Elizabeth II in 1953.