Thursday, December 17, 2015

My Audio Suggestions for Children This Holiday...

Obviously, the first classic that comes to mind is the celebrated delight, the  "Toy" Symphony by Papa Haydn,  redolent  with the delightful sounds that abound in what was one of my favorite musical morsels during early childhood.  Time has not sullied the glitter of this venerable composition, which happens to be at this point of time a center of some controversy germane to the question of the actual composer - was it Haydn who actually committed this work to paper?  Perhaps I might bring this issue up at another time, if you'd like...
A French composer of secondary standing, Jacques Ibert, known in his domain for his adroit  and spirited writing, pokes great fun at the hallowed tradition we call Marriage by giving us a glimpse of Mendelssohn's Wedding March, rudely interrupted by trumpets emitting 'wah-wahs' amid some staggering forms of forward motion. It's in an orchestral confection titled "Divertissement." A child old enough to have become familiar with the Wedding March will invariably emit a guffaw at this rupture of Traditionalism.
A Swiss composer by the name of Arthur Honegger was a passionate lover of trains, and used them constantly whenever he needed to be somewhere else. I have searched to see if he was a model train collector, as he passed on in 1955, a time when model train collectors were present in Europe in great numbers. At this point in time, I do not know if he was indeed a collector, but I DO know that for those of you not familiar with Honegger's "Pacific 231" for orchestra, you may well be in for a treat, in that this composer replicates with orchestral instruments the sounds of a train, from the beginning of a trip, to the completion of  its journey.  A rare glimpse of a composer consorting with just plain Fun...
"Twinkle Twinkle Little Star" - is there a child's tune more popular?
Then, why not introduce a child to Mozart's Variations on this tune? It's a typical Mozart gem, with that irrepressible positivism and unparalleled clarity of purpose we know so well in so much of this master's work - and a positively painless way to allow a child to hear the game that Mozart is playing with such a simple little tune.
Which prompts me to suggest that you also  look for ":Heigh-ho Mozart," a compendium of Walt Disney tunes arranged in the styles of great names such as Mozart, Chopin etc. Utterly delightful, and  masterfully arranged  for various instrumental combinations.
Enjoy!

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