Chapulina R | Tovarischi Imports, USA/RUS | 01/25/2004
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The classic composition by Sergei Prokofiev gets a new soul and also a new soulmate, Wolf Tracks, by Jean-Pascal Beintus. Both pieces are conducted by Kent Nogano and the Russian National Orchestra (RNO), with all proceeds going to charities. The original tale of Peter's dangerous encounter is narrated by ardent animal-rights supporter Sophia Loren. Wolf Tracks, narrated by former US President Bill Clinton, is about Peter's own little grandson. Old Peter has had a change of heart as the wolves and the wild places have been driven toward extinction. But young Peter simply must capture a wolf for himself! And in so doing, learn what his grandfather realized long ago about the wolf's important place in Nature. Superb scores and excellent storytelling make this recording a kid and parent pleaser! A word about the beneficiaries of this project: Green Cross International was founded in 1993 by former Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev, who provides the CD's prologue, intermezzo, and epilogue in Russian. Green Cross, active in twenty four countries, promotes natural resource conservation, research, and education. Sophia Loren's charity, Magic of Music, is the RNO's program to bring art and music to orphanages and children's hospitals worldwide. Each of the colorful illustrations in the 24-page booklet which accompanies the CD was painted by children in the program. Bill Clinton's royalties go to the International AIDS Trust, which he co-chairs with Nelson Mandela. IAT creates strategic partnerships with heads of governments, labor, business, religions, and with private citizens to combat the global AIDS epidemic. So, in the words of the Wolf himself, "Everyone involved, including you, dear listener, has made a contribution to a better future for wolves and all the noble creatures of our planet." A pleasure, highly recommended, and worthwhile!"
R. D. Hoag | Carmel by the Sea, Ca United States | 09/20/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Best Spoken Word Album For Children This Peter and the Wolf SACD won the 2004 Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album For Children, beating such nominated heavyweights as Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix spoken by Jim Dale, Winnie the Pooh spoken by Jim Broadbent and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory told by Eric Idle.
PentaTone Classics PentaTone Classics is a small Dutch label specialised in Super Audio CD (SACD) recordings. It was founded just a few years ago by former Philips executives and has become well known for its Remastered Quadro Recordings (RQR) series. The RQR series are SACD issues of recordings Philips made in the seventies for the short-lived quadrophonic LP format.
PentaTone SACDs PentaTone doesn't produce anything less than SACDs, and al its SACDs are hybrid SACDs, they play on both SACD and ordinary CD players. Many PentaTone recordings are made by Polyhymnia, formerly the Philips Classical Recording Centre. Polymnia is specialised in high-end recordings of acoustic music on location. Much of the recording equipment is designed and built or at least substantially modified in-house. Polymnia became independent in 1998 through a management buy-out by key personnel.
THE STORY BEHIND THE CD
international collaboration Just how did a small independent Dutch label manage to get Bill Clinton and Mikhail Gorbachev on the same CD?
That story starts back in 1990, at the height of glasnost, when pianist-conductor Mikhail Pletnev approached president Gorbachev with the idea to create an orchestra completely free of government control. Thus the Russian National Orchestra came into existence. Mikhail Gorbachev remains affiliated with the RNO. He is not on the board of trustees, but he is on the international Board of Directors of the Russian Arts Foundation, an American organisation in support of Russian art and culture.
When the RNO debuted for Deutsche Grammophon with its recording of Tchaikovsky's Pathétique, Grammophone called it "awe-inspiring" and the best recording of the Pathétique ever. In 2001, the RNO started its Cultural Allies program, an arts exchange program that promotes international understanding. It was the Cultural Allies program that enabled the Russian debut of e Russian debut of conductors like Kent Nagano and Michael Tilson Thomas.
Most recording of the RNO with conductor Mikhail Pletnev have been released by Deutsche Grammophon, more recently, recordings with with conductor Kent Nagano have been released by PentaTone.
charity The Russian National Orchestra's idea to couple the classic Peter and the Wolf with a modern story was executed under the artistic direction of Kent Nagano. The RNO commissioned French composer Jean-Pascal Beintus to write a new composition, Wolf Tracks and broadcast writer Walt Kraemer to write the text. Contributors include pianist Hélène Grimaud, co-founder of the Wolf Conservation Centre. Nagano conducted premiere performance of Wolf Tracks took place in August of 2002 at San Francisco's Stern Grove Festival.
The decision to contribute all royalties to charity made it easier to attract some well-known names.
On the CD, the story of Peter and the Wolf is told by Italian actress Sophia Loren. She is chair of the Artists Council of the Russian Arts Foundation, active in many charity causes. Her royalties go to Magic of Music, and arts therapy program for youth sponsored by the RNO.
Mikhail Gorbachev does the prologue, intermezzo and epilogue - in Russian. Translation into English is provided by Sergei Markov, the chief executive of the Russian National Orchestra. Gorbachev's royalties go to Green Cross International, an environmental organisation he himself founded.
Bill Clinton once considered a career as a professional saxophone player. It may have been Gorbachev who asked him to narrate Wolf Tracks. Bill Clinton co-chairs the advisory committee of the International AIDS Trust, together with Nelson Mandela, and his royalties go there.
booklet PentaTone did not skim on the booklet. It is a 24-page full-colour job, containing background information on the narrators, their chosen charities, the compositions, the composors , the orchestra and the conductor. It is illustrated with drawings by children from Moscow orphanages.
recording PentaTone recorded the CD in multi-channel surround. The recording is crisp and clear. The sound engineers did a fine job. The orchestra's every nuance and the narrator's every inflection has been captured perfectly. It may well be the best recorded Peter and the Wolf yet.
prologue, intermezzo, epilogue I found the prologue, intermezzo and epilogue rather disappointing. Gorbachev's text just seems too formal, even a bit pompous to me, and the line-by-line translation robs it from any free flow it might have left. He may mean well, but there's nothing here for children to enjoy at all. Luckily, theses three tracks are just about one minute each.
Peter and the Wolf Sophia Loren does a fine job telling the story of Peter and the Wolf. Loren isn't trying to act up, but is telling the story with enthusiasm, making her rendition more convincing and likeable than Sharon Stone's version. I personally still prefer David Bowie's and Stings's versions, but this recording is among the top ones. Kent Nagano's pacing of the orchestra, the sound balance between the orchestra and her voice, even the particular sound of this orchestra and her voice, they all seem just right for each other. The orchestra's wind soloists' performance in particular makes it clear why this is such a highly respected orchestra. The enthusiasm and understanding with which she tells the story contributes to the enjoyment of the performance.
Wolf Tracks The story of Wolf Tracks is about Peter's grandson, also called Peter. It is told by Bill Clinton. This story and his performance narrating it are the real gem on this CD. The story, although a bit heavy on morals, is a good one that makes a great coupling with Peter and the Wolf, so good a coupling in fact, that it might become a classic one. The orchestra does an admirable job again, but the real surprise is that Bill Clinton is a stunningly effective narrator. Even after seeing the photos of him recording it, you still imagine him telling the story from a chair next to a burning log fire, looking up now and then to look you in the eye, turn the next page and continue the story.
conclusion This is one of the better recordings of Peter and the Wolf, and the first time it is coupled with Wolf Tracks, a modern sequel to that tale. With fine narration and superb sound, the Grammy is well-deserved. [...] "
Peter and the Wolf good, Wolf Tracks Bad
Dean Shannon | Alaska | 08/16/2006
(4 out of 5 stars)
"Sophia Loren does a fantastic job with 'Peter and the Wolf'. Her performance alone is worth buying the CD. "Wolf Tracks" however did not do as good of a job. This was not due to Clinton's performance as he was simple reading the story not writing it. 'Wolf Tracks' is very preachy and very weak attempt to get people to care about the environment. In addition the music for 'Wolf Tracks' is pale in comparison to 'Peter and the Wolf'. With Prokofiev you walk away with humming the themes for all the characters, with Beintus you walk away wishing you stopped the CD after track three. Only buy this CD if you are a fan of `Peter and the Wolf'"
Interesting Wolf Tracks
Charles E. Jeffries | Weston, WV USA | 01/17/2010
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I heard Bill Clinton mention this recording in an interview; intrigued, I ordered it from Amazon. I was not disappointed. Where else could you find Clinton teamed with Sophia Loren and -- yes -- Mikhail Gorbachev. The music is sublime; the recitations a treasure to have. Get it."