Various Artists

Peter & The Wolf [RSO]

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Meshing a multitude of talents with emphasis on the progressive rock style, Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is creatively adapted through the likes of modern instrumentation, putting an entertaining and extraordinary spin on one of the most famed pieces of classical music. Narrated by Viv Stanshall, the wonderful children's classic becomes splendidly animated with a myriad of synthesizers and guitars, saxophones and chimes, as well as a brimming percussion section. The story line is aimed at a younger crowd, and each character is represented by different instruments which, in turn, can easily be appreciated by audiences of any age. A who's who of classic and progressive rock musicians contribute to the album, including Manfred Mann as Peter, renowned keyboard session man Gary Brooker as the Bird, guitarist Chris Spedding as the Duck, Brian Eno as the Wolf, and violinist Stephane Grappelli as the Cat. Phil Collins, Cozy Powell, and Jon Heisman represent the evil hunters, using bass, snare, and cymbals to their full extent of expression, while Jack Lancaster, Henry Lowther, and Robin Lumley take care of the woodwind instruments with Gary Moore filling in on accompanying guitar. Even the English Chorale is employed, coming to life on the peculiar "Threnody for a Duck." The entire project is extremely colorful and aurally picturesque, with the story moving along at a pleasantly brisk pace. Each instrument does an excellent job at mimicking the nature of its respected character, brilliantly building mood and atmosphere along the way. The "Final Theme" involves all of the musicians lending their talents to one large orchestrated gathering, a delightfully fitting close to this classic tale with a twist.

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