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Gramophone The Archive Beta

June 1961 - page            
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PROKOFTEV. Peter and the Wolf. Garry Moore (narrator), Philhar- monk Symphony Orchestra of London conducted by Artur Rodzinski. SAINT.. SAENS. Carnival of the Animals. Garry Moore (narrator), Josef and Grete Dichler (duopianists),Vienna State Opera Orchestra conducted by Hermann Scherchen. Whitehall 0 W1120040 (12 in. 16s. 1 lid. plus 5s. 64d. P.T.) : o WHS20040 (12 in., 19s. 3d. plus 6s. 3d. P.P.).
Coupled as above:
Flanders, H. Menuhin, A. Simon, Philh., Kurtz (12/59) Q ALP1728: 0 ASD299 B. Lillie, Katchen, Graffman, L.S.O., Henderson (10)60) Q LXT5577: 0 SXL2218
The main question is whether British Mums want their children to get to know Peter and the Wolf with an American accent. Come to think of it, the last narrator of the story I recommended was Miss Beatrice Lillie and even Professor Higgins would be hard put to it to identify her accent. Mr. Garry Moore is American and he speaks very nice American. Moreover, his approach is impeccable. He never condescends (none of this "dear children" business at the start nor "now I'm going to tell you a story"—what else do we think they're going to do?). No; he is admirably direct, his pace is excellent and he is partnered by lively playing under Rodzinski. Most records suffer from either the wrong spoken approach or a dull performance of the music. Miss Lillie is in a class by herself and if you think her too arch and sophisticated, then, if you don't mind the American accent, Garry Moore is first-rate.
I come to the other side with less enthusiasm. Poor old Saint-Saens' music has been messed up yet again. The verses this time are not by Ogden Nash but by John Burt. They are far more likely to be enjoyed by children but every bit of music is preceded by real animal noises and sometimes, when they can't produce the right noise, as in The Swan, the verse is spoken all over the start of that lovely piece. I have no doubt that children will like the noises "all recorded in the Bronx Zoo if that's of interest to you" (that's not from the script but just me being infected by it) but Saint-Saens' music was never meant to be larked about with like this and I would prefer any child to enjoy it as it is—as I am sure any child would. However, performances are again very good.
Of the performances listed above, Beatrice Lillie uses Ogden Nash's verses. If you prefer The Carnival of Animals "straight" I would suggest Michael Flanders on the H.M.V. disc. This new issue is, however, extremely good value at a very cheap price and will give a lot of delight. ( I said, by the way, that Garry Moore speaks very good American—but I wish he didn't say "and if one would listen very carefully, he could hear the duck. . . .") T.H.

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