For the past 70 years the most recent music and narrative composed specifically for children was Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf in 1936 written for his own children. Finally there is something new and modern for children to listen to, which might just open the world of classical music for them. Misterstourworm and the Kelpie's Gift is a very exciting recording of a work composed by Savourna Stevenson in 2003 and performed once that year. It brings together the Orchestra of Scottish Opera with narrative by Stuart Paterson and offers a blend of sweetness and darkness that turn the best fairy tales into favourites. Flute and harp create a magical harmony evoking faeries and stardust, while the frightening power of the monster come through strongly through the deep brass instruments.
Actor Billy Boyd (Pippin in Lord of the Rings) narrates the tale beautifully, heightening the tension of the fight between good and evil. His words come across clearly, at just the right level to enable listeners to enjoy both the story and the music. The CD first offers the narrative version of the tale, then the music without the words. The little book, into which the CD is cleverly fitted, provides the story, beautifully illustrated, so children can read it for themselves while the music is playing.
There are a bonus three songs on the CD, including a lullaby, and a wonderful, powerful song “Bullies” which reworks the nursery rhyme “Mary, Mary” to tremendous effect.
When my 13 year old daughter heard Misterstourworm and the Kelpie's Gift for the first time, she was transfixed by the connection between narrative and music.
This is a treat for everyone to enjoy, and the most wonderful part is that the music grows on you, the more you hear it. The story also comes through more clearly when you get to know the music, so I recommend you listen to it several times over a few weeks, to turn it into a family favourite. It provides a glorious experience for children and grown ups alike.
(At time of writing, this isn't available in the US: US users should check Amazon.com for availability)
10th June 2008