Peter and the Wolf is a well-loved piece that has been recorded many times by many different personalities. Doubtless many listeners have their own favourite recorded versions of this work and narrators to tell the story too.
As far as this DG recording with Gingold is concerned, this has charms of its own. To paraphrase one of my fellow reviewers, it resembles an eccentric aunt who told us stories when we were young. There is indeed an old-fashioned charm in Gingold's narration, and yet children (and adults) can respond to her style. It is an engaging, direct and dramatic rendition and doesn't talk down to us.
Böhm and the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra provide superb accompaniments to her narration. Böhm and the orchestra are excellent as always, and this recording finds him in a relaxed, genial mood, different from the dour personality that greets us in his Beethoven or Mozart recordings. Of course he is suitably dramatic for the entrance of the wolf. Elsewhere the orchestra plays with charm, and responds well to Böhm's direction and Prokofiev's scoring. Then again, this score does not exactly make many demands on the orchestras that attempt it.
This version of Peter and the Wolf is paired with Carnival of the Animals. This is one of a few recordings of the Carnival with the Ogden Nash verses. Compared to Peter and the Wolf, I find that Carnival of the Animals is a little straight-laced. No doubt the playing of the VPO and the Kontarsky piano duo is excellent, and no doubt Gingold offers an excellent reading of the poems, but there are times when the playing is a little po-faced. When the orchestra and the Kontarsky pianists play together, they seem better in the sections for the Lion, the Aquarium and the Aviary. However, they don't quite get the point of the musical jokes in the sections for the Tortoise, the Elephant and even the Fossils. The best parts are when the Kontarsky pianists play either alone (the Wild Donkeys and the Kangaroos) or with individual players (the clarinet cuckoo and the cello swan) without the rest of the orchestra. No doubt this version of Carnival has high musical standards but it would be good if the players could enjoy the music and make the listener laugh at the many musical jokes that Saint-Saens sprinkles in the music.
One issue I've had with recordings of Peter and the Wolf is that when narrators are recorded separately from the orchestra in different acoustics the listener can noticeably hear it. So it is with Gingold's narration. It is easy for me to notice that the acoustic that surrounds her voice sounds so different from the concert hall acoustic of the orchestra. This is not a unique problem, but at least the performances from all concerned are excellent.
Admittedly I wish that Gingold and Böhm had done Young Person's Guide in place of Carnival of the Animals. However, this English language disc is derived from the German-language release featuring Karl Böhm's son Karlheinz as narrator for both pieces.
I would gladly put this version of Peter and the Wolf above the other recordings I have heard to date. It has an old-fashioned allure and engages the listener, and offers excellent, relaxed music-making from Böhm and the VPO.
I know that this disc has been out of print for such a long time. However the good thing is that the Japanese branch of Universal has reissued this version on and off, and so it might be easily obtainable through some Japanese music e-tailers.
Peter And The Wolf -..
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Vinyl, Import, 13 January 2017
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- Product Dimensions : 30.48 x 32 x 2.54 cm; 226.8 Grams
- Manufacturer : VINYL PASSION CLASSICAL
- Manufacturer reference : WA-31785921
- Original Release Date : 2017
- Label : VINYL PASSION CLASSICAL
- ASIN : B01MFFFQ1V
- Number of discs : 2
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Narrated by Leonard Bernstein who also conducts The New York Philharmonic Orchestra. Violin Concerto features Isaac Stern.
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Gingold's narration sustains a well-played Peter and a strait-laced CarnivalReviewed in the United Kingdom on 27 July 2013
2 people found this helpful
G M L MATTHEWS
Well presented and producedReviewed in the United Kingdom on 23 August 2019
Peter and the Wolf was presented as it should be with no frills. Hermione Gingold is a good choice of narrator. The Carnival of the Animals is a bit disjointed with the insertion of Ogden Nash's poems between the pieces of music but they are a good introduction to what comes next, especially for children.
Barbara Black Peden
ClassicReviewed in Canada on 6 July 2013
Not sure how popular this was with the granddaughter, but her father liked it, and especially the involvement of Bowie.
Childhood RelivedReviewed in the United States on 30 May 2012
I grew up on Peter And the Wolf, and listened on a record player...back in the days when dinosaurs roamed the Earth, LOL. The Prokofiev piece, expertly executed, takes full advantage of David Bowie's skill as a narrator. My only regret is that the second and third pieces (Guide to the Orchestra, Carnival of the Animals) is instrumental only, without the explanations and the clever rhymes.
2 people found this helpful