Peter and the Wolf is a gift for storytellers. It is the ultimate in musical characterisation: slinky clarinet cat, ditzy flute bird, wholesome string-section Peter, all in Prokofiev’s most taut and tuneful writing. But there is no shortage of lovable recordings and I can’t imagine this new version from Vasily Petrenko and the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic making much of a dent. It sounds classy, cool, a bit sedate. There’s plenty to admire in the gleaming textures, the skilful pacing, but this piece deserves outright exuberance. The narrator is Alexander Armstrong, the current voice of Danger Mouse, affable and unmemorable next to historic renditions from Alec Guinness, Richard Baker, Dame Edna Everage, Sting, Lenny Henry … the list goes on.
Also on the disc is Saint-Saëns’s Carnival of the Animals, complete with doggerel verse by Ogden Nash that overstates what the music more magically conveys, and Alan Rawsthorne’s prosaic setting of TS Eliot’s Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats. The playing is excellent.
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf, etc CD review – affable but unmemorable