About this Recording
8.578019-20 - CHILDREN'S CLASSICS - Music to Make Children Brighter (2008 International Edition)

Children’s Classics


Music is all around us. We can respond to it even before we are born, and as we grow older it becomes ingrained into our memories, imagination and emotions. We all have a favourite piece—something that has a special significance, even if we don’t exactly know why—and there is a wealth of music written for children that taps into this impossible-to-define sensation. Some have claimed that listening to classical music (Mozart is the oft-given example) as a child can aid brain development and spatial-temporal reasoning, but you don’t have to believe the claims that music can increase attention span or heighten intelligence to know that it has the power to soothe, invigorate and animate us. Old or young, we are fundamentally affected by it.

The music on these CDs has been chosen specifically for children, ranging from calming lullabies to Leopold Mozart’s joyful ‘Toy Symphony’. In a variety of arrangements for both orchestra and piano, and spanning nearly 200 years of musical history, here are pieces for all moods and hours of the day. It is ideal nourishment for growing minds and imaginations, as well as entertainment for children and adults alike!

CD 1 opens with excerpts from Schumann’s well-known Kinderszenen (‘Scenes from Childhood’), including the lilting ‘Of Foreign Lands and Peoples’ and the famously beautiful ‘Dreaming’. This last piece is particularly well-known, having been used in several Hollywood films! Other favourites on this disc include sections from Debussy’s Children’s Corner (one of which is the comical ‘Golliwog’s Cake- Walk’); lullabies by Brahms, Popper, Jacob and Schubert; Mozart’s light-hearted variations on the tune known in English as Twinkle Twinkle Little Star; part of Elgar’s second Wand of Youth Suite; and the complete Babar the Elephant, which follows the ever-popular adventures of a young elephant in the big city. While Babar will captivate children, the lullabies are perfect bedtime listening, and will help soothe children to sleep.

The first disc also includes part of Mozart’s famous Piano Quartet No. 1 in G minor, K. 478. Often cited as the first major work composed for piano quartet, Mozart’s publisher considered it too difficult to perform; today it is one of his most popular and enduring works. In Mozart’s time, of course, chamber music such as this would normally have been played by amateur rather than professional musicians, so no wonder it was considered a challenge!

CD 2 is a feast for the imagination, with music full of magic, myth and excitement. Ravel’s Mother Goose and Prokofiev’s Cinderella Suite, both based on well-known fairy-tales, conjure up dazzling worlds of sound with which to tell their stories. Ravel’s suite—featuring Sleeping Beauty, Tom Thumb and Beauty and the Beast, among others—was written especially for (and dedicated to) the children of the Godebski family, with whom Ravel had a close friendship. He used to read fairystories to the children Mimi and Jean (aged six and seven), and it was they who were supposed to give the first performance of the piece in 1910 (it was first written for piano duet). In the event they found it too difficult, and it was premiered by two other children: Jeanne Leleu (aged 11) and Geneviève Durony (aged 14).

Opera is represented on this disc by the dream pantomime sequence from Engelbert Humperdinck’s Hansel and Gretel and the ‘March of the Toys’ from Victor Herbert’s musical extravaganza Babes in Toyland (based on well-known characters from nursery rhymes). Also included are Leon Jessel’s Parade of the Wooden Soldiers, particularly popular around Christmas time; a gentle lullaby by George Gershwin; Edward White’s exuberant Puffin’ Billy, a nostalgic children’s classic made famous on television during the mid-twentieth century as the Captain Kangaroo theme tune; and music by Elgar. Finally, the collection is rounded off by the comical ‘Toy Symphony’—another classic children’s favourite which has stood the test of time. Written by Leopold Mozart, the father of Wolfgang Amadeus, it mixes ‘real’ instruments with toy ones and is a delight from beginning to end.

Not just for children, this is a compilation that can be enjoyed by the whole family—at home, in the car or anywhere else. Children will want to listen to it again and again, as each track becomes a familiar friend.

© 2008 Caroline Waight

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