It seems a little bit ironic that some of the most interesting and mature music to come from the Windham Hill label was produced to accompany the narration of children's stories. However, it's no surprise that the music in question was produced by trumpeter and composer Mark Isham, who has always been one of Windham Hill's most consistently interesting artists. Songs My Children Taught Me is a set of four suites, each intended to accompany the reading of a classic children's story. The first piece, "The Steadfast Tin Soldier," juxtaposes a martial trumpet-and-drums motif with a tinkling music-box melody and chugging calliope. "The Emperor and the Nightingale" uses gongs and flutes to create an exceptionally lovely mood. The main theme to "Thumbelina" is a pastoral, almost haunting oboe and guitar duet; woodwinds remain prominent throughout the piece. The album's finest moments occur during "The Emperor's New Clothes," which demonstrates Isham's ability to take musical clichés (in this case, Renaissance-flavored fanfare and dance forms) and adapt them to his own whimsical, romantic style. This is children's music that adults will love.
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