Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Review Crew: Maestro Classics

We had our second snow storm in less than a week, and spent the morning listening to this CD.  Wow, what a treat.

Maestro Classics is an award winning producer of children's classic music CDs.  They have created 8 CDs to capture a child's imagination and interest in classical music. Each CD (called a digipak) is $16.98. A large case version (with a larger activity book) is available for the same price.

Other titles include:  
  1. The Tortoise and The Hare; 
  2. The Story of Swan Lake, 
  3. Juanita the Spanish Lobster in English
  4. Juanita the Spanish Lobster in Spanish;
  5. Casey at Bat;
  6. Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel; 
  7. The Sorcerer's Apprentice; and  
  8. Peter and the Wolf.
 The composition that I reviewed, Peter and the Wolf, is not unfamiliar to me (or my children, but they probably don't recall listening to our borrowed copy from the library).  We've listened to a fairly popular version in the past, but what I appreciated about this new edition was both the quality of the recording, the activity book that accompanied the CD, and the multiple music recordings on the CD.  It is a pleasure to add this to our music collection.

The product. Encased in a tri-fold cardboard CD case, a CD-sized 23 page activity book helps expand a child's interaction with and beyond the highlighted piece.  Since the composer, Sergei Prokofiev, is Russian, the Simons have included information about the Cyrillic script and Russian folk instruments.  There are codes to crack, puzzles to solve, and characters to match with their primary instrument (for example, the duck is represented by the oboe in this piece; the hunters' gunfire is accented by kettle drums).   Oh, the answers to the puzzles on on their website ! 

The CD itself is more than just the composer's symphony.  In fact, this piece of music is recorded twice on the CD -- once while being narrated by a fantastic storyteller, Yadu, and once without narration.  I love that both are included on the CD.  The narrated version helps to highlight the themes and story so that children can start to hear and feel emotion and motion within a piece. When comfortable, the child can listen again to the piece without the narrator's cues, experiencing the emotions on his own.

Also on the CD are a narrated introduction to Mr. Prokofiev, the musical themes of each character, and extended listening which include pieces of Russian folk music.

My impressions:  I love, love, love this product. I will do my best to acquire the entire set of these CDs.  I think that the product will appeal to a wide range of ages.  My 5- and 8-year-old enjoyed matching the musical instrument to the pictured character.  My older boys will appreciate the crossword puzzles. Next time we listen, we'll do a different activity from the booklet.  There is plenty of music history and enrichment in the booklet and on the CD to add in subsequent listenings.

Doing a geography study?  Add these in to match the region you are studying.  This particular product would be fantastic for a study of Russia --or the 20th century, as Prokofiev moved back to Russia when it was controlled by Stalin.

Read what other reviewers are saying here.

FCC statement: I received a free copy of this product for an honest review of this product. No other compensation was obtained.

1 comment:

Maestro Classics said...

Hi Alane,

Thanks for the wonderful review of our Peter and the Wolf CD this winter. I just wanted to let you know that since you reviewed our CD we've made a Facebook page so that our fans can participate in monthly giveaways (June was Peter and the Wolf, as a matter of fact) and get coupons. We'd love to invite you and your readers to join our page and thanks again for the lovely review!

Social Media Coordinator
Maestro Classics