If you are new to classical music, then Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf is a great piece to discover. This piece is suitable for all ages and is extremely entertaining, especially in the charming, whimsical recording that I will introduce you to in this post. If you already know this work, which I expect many of my readers will, then this recording will no doubt charm you nevertheless.
I did not grow up in a musical home. I don't have any childhood memories (fond or otherwise) of hearing parents playing their own instruments or of classical music, or any music for that matter, blasting from the stereo (is that what we called them?). I discovered classical music, as a late teenager, mostly through friends. I therefore only discovered Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf much later than considered "normal", 16-17 years old, in my case.
Peter and the Wolf was/is mostly aimed at introducing children to the sounds of the orchestra through the narrated story of Peter and the Wolf. It contains excellent music and characterisations and is suitable for anyone new to classical music and wanting to learn to identify the different instruments. It's an essential classical music piece for beginners.....and children, of course.
Dame Edna Everage, played by Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by John Lanchbery. Dame Edna Everage, for those who don't know, is a character created and performed by Australian comedian Barry Humphries. She is famous for her lilac-coloured or "wisteria hue" hair, cat eye glasses or "face furniture," her favourite flower, the gladiolus ("gladdies") and her boisterous greeting: "Hello, Possums!" Humphries is currently on his acclaimed farewell tour EAT, PRAY, LAUGH, so this may be one of your last chances to hear him/her live.
This recording is tastefully and charmingly performed by Dame Edna Everage. No garish drag queen or overacting here. This is a great old tale, told in a refreshing, fun, but always respectful way. Proves that classical music can and should be fun.
Below is a youTube video of Dame Edna Everage speaking about the personal significance of playing at the Sydney Opera House:
Links to the recording (track 1-9):