“A rather mild reception, with poor attendance and failed to attract much attention…”, wrote Sergei Prokofiev on 2nd May 1936 in his diary, the day after the première of Peter and the Wolf, op.67, a piece commissioned by Natalya Sats and by The Moscow Central Children’s Theatre whose aim was to cultivate the musical taste in children from their first years in school.
Thrilled with the commission, Prokofiev completed the score in only two weeks. The piece resulted in a very amusing musical work conceived as a child’s introduction to the orchestra where each character of the story is personified by a different instrument or by a group of them. The great popularity of Peter and the Wolf has inspired countless cinematic animations and personalities of the cinema, theatre, music. Even politics did not hesitate to lend their voices to narrate the text written by the composer himself: Sophia Loren, David Attenbourough, Jacqueline Du Pré, Leonard Bernstein, Sting, Eleanor Roosevelt or Bill Clinton were among some of them.
Another work with a pedagogical intent is The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, op34 written by Benjamin Britten upon request of the British Ministry of Education to illustrate the educational short film “Instruments of the Orchestra” and whose symphonic version was later premiered in Liverpool in October, 1946. The piece is subtitled Variations and Fugue on a theme by Purcell, since Britten was inspired by the majestic rondeau from Abdelazer, a dramatic piece by this late XVII century composer as main theme for a set of variations where the themes are played by the whole orchestra and introduced afterwards reintroduced by the different sections of the orchestra. By doing this Britten emphasizes the different timbres of the different sections of the orchestra.
Narrator | Pedro Wallenstein
Conductor | Natalie Murray Beale
Orquestra Sinfónica Portuguesa
Maestrina Titular | Joana Carneiro
Sergei Prokofiev | Peter and the Wolf, op.67
Benjamin Britten | The Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra, op. 34
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