Sunday, September 23, 2007
A Child's Introduction to the Orchestra
Good news, especially for my two older brothers. The greatest out-of-print LP ever made, Alec Wilder’s “A Child’s Introduction to the Orchestra,” is available for free downloading at the Children’s Vinyl Record Series site (thanks to Bloggerythms for the heads up). This recording was a great favorite of mine in childhood, and was probably one of those random influences that made me (not to mention my two brothers) into a musician. It introduces each member of the orchestra with a little tune sung by a singer representing the instrument, followed by a solo on said instrument; there are Antoinette the Clarinet, Newt the Flute, Mellow Fellow the Cello, even Max the Sax in a very hip number. Well, hip for a child’s recording made in the late 1950s; it will never be reissued, because it is in fact hopelessly square in an age when They Might Be Giants are cutting kids’ CDs. It is really fantastic, though. Alec Wilder’s music and arrangements, conducted by Mitch Miller, are very forward-looking, anticipating the work of Gil Evans. The singers are excellent too: a high, Irish-type tenor sings the part of Bobo the Oboe (one of the most beautiful numbers on the LP); a basso profundo sings Old Muldoon the Big Bassoon (“they call me the clown of the orchestra, but it’s not necessarily so”); the sole girl singer is a kind of legit-slash-lounge type; they all do a great job. It all sounds remarkably corny, but it’s not. I’m so happy to have rediscovered this gem of children’s music. My son is digging it hard, too.