Prokofiev Peter and the Wolf
This Peter and the Wolf - the disc's
Alas, the record's producer was not content with Prokofiev's inspired instrumental characterisation for each of the characters in the tale. Mercifully, Peter stays with the strings; but instead of a flute, the bird is portrayed by an ancient Chinese harmonica, the duck is a Catalan tiple, producing a singularly unattractive squeal - a bit like a soprano saxophone with virtually no timbre at all. Even more outrageously the wolf is represented by three accordions, which are totally ineffective; and worst of all the wonderfully feline clarinet with which Prokofiev portrayed the cat is abandoned in favour of the oboe d'amore. The only really effective change is the use of a renaissance serpent to personify grandfather. Within the narrative itself the composer's carefully balanced orchestration is thrown awry by the various squawks from the intruders.
Peter and the Wolf was designed by Prokofiev to introduce young listeners to the orchestral palette, and the dumbing down here robs his score of this primary purpose, as well as almost all its elegance and much of its wit. May I recommend instead Dame Edna on Naxos, which is listener-friendly in every sense, yet her vivid accompaniment, from the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra under John Lanchbery, retains all the sophistication and colour of the composer's original conception.
Libor Pesek and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra give a brilliantly detailed and highly enjoyable account of Britten's