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Prokofiev & Beintus: Peter and the Wolf / Wolf Tracks
Prokofiev: Peter and the Wolf
Beintus: Wolf Tracks
Sophia Loren, Bill Clinton, Mikhail Gorbachev, narrators
Kent Nagano, conductor
More info
Winner of 2004 GRAMMY Award
GRAMMY Award, 2004
Pentatone SACD

Acclaim for Prokofiev & Beintus: Peter and the Wolf / Wolf Tracks

"The recordings are stellar..., the narrators engaging, the message one of hope and harmony."

Green Teacher (June 2005)

"Winner of a 2004 GRAMMY Award for Best Spoken Word Album for Children. The RNO is the first Russian orchestra ever to win the recording industry's highest honor."

(February 2004) [more]

"Sophia Loren's charming narration of Peter and the Wolf has a universal appeal. Children will surely love its friendly simplicity and innocence, and adults will appreciate the way this fine actress, without being in the least self-conscious, identifies totally with the story. She is helped by Kent Nagano's alert yet relaxed pacing, and some superb individual characterizations by the orchestral soloists, especially the cat - so feline and slinky on the clarinet... Grandfather, too, is pert and dapper, yet persuasive in his authority on the bassoon, and the oboe's melancholy is very winning at the close, when Loren's last words are so gentle and touching. She makes one realize that the situation of the duck alive inside the wolf brings a dilemma virtually impossible to resolve, a perception which children readily share."

Gramophone (February 2004)

"...a sonically impressive new SACD version of Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf [and] Wolf Tracks ... The message of global harmony is clear, [the] score is forest-fresh, it’s all in aid of charity and only a real Scrooge could complain."

BBC Music Magazine (December 2003)

"I would recommend this Peter and the Wolf as one of the better ones in the catalog and surely the best recorded... Sophia Loren proves to be a splendid narrator, imbuing her reading with charm and an innate sense of drama. The orchestra’s soloists play splendidly."

Soundstage (November 2003)

"...a terrific narration job that should appeal to all ages... The 5.0 channel orchestral surround on both works is realistic and involving."

Audiophile Audition (November 2003)

"Here’s a recording that should get plenty of attention... Kent Nagano leads the Russian National Orchestra with a light hand, and his wind soloists are especially excellent. Sophia Loren is [an] expressive narrator... Former President Clinton renders Kraemer’s words with the same sort of down-home feeling and intelligence that made him such an effective politician... Beintus’s music [is] solidly crafted... The orchestra has been richly and closely recorded... It’s hard to object to the motivations behind this project. Unless you’re against World Peace, or wolves."

Fanfare (November 2003)

"The Russian National Orchestra never lets us forget that Peter and the Wolf is a Russian work. Everything is lavishly colorful and fast-paced... The cat’s clarinet squeals raucously, the bird’s flute sings rapturously, the hunters’ drums pound lustily, and the trombones snarl in the wolf-capture scene as only Russian brass dare. Nonetheless, Kent Nagano elicits subtle touches: Peter’s theme is lithe and elegant [and] the horns play with surprising subtlety and roundness. The recording is warm and vivid, with deep bass, excellent balance and convincing stereo separation... this is a first-class Peter in a crowded field."

American Record Guide (November 2003)

"Bill Clinton narrates with much conviction... [This CD] will be a very chic Christmas present." (France) (November 2003)

"Peter and the Wolf was conceived as an educational tool to teach children about the orchestra, and this new disc carries on the aim of exciting and informing young minds. In addition to Prokofiev and Loren's thoughtful, sweet voice, listeners will find a new work, Wolf Tracks,...that [embodies] ideals of cooperation, understanding, conservation, and the immense power of art to inspire."

The Sun News (November 2003)

"Kent Nagano has come up with another coup in this remarkable for-charity super-audio CD. [Wolf Tracks] is pleasant and tuneful and delightfully crafted... The Russian National Orchestra plays with great distinction, in a typically Nagano-style, fastidiously balanced recording."

Manchester Music (October 2003)

"The surprise performance comes from Clinton. His famously pock-marked voice is strangely alluring. He sounds sincere and avuncular, and acts with a fair amount of ease. This is something more complex than a statesmanlike reading of Copland's Lincoln Portrait. Hidden talents? No. After all, it was Ronald Reagan who said during his presidency that there had been times when he 'wondered how you could do the job if you hadn't been an actor.'

"It's no surprise that the music helped make the story more real for Clinton. ... the music can be quite moving. [The] best of Beintus' music sounds ultra-French: Debussy-like harp passages, a Jean Francaix lightness... [It's] music that immediately places the listener in the story, evoking cold breezes, a frightening chase, the sad eyes of a captured wolf. What better traits for music to accompany a children's story? Wolf Tracks should become a popular piece with any orchestra that wants to bring children a contemporary message...

Sophia Loren can do no wrong in her take on the Prokofiev. With this release, she joins... a long line of celebrities taking their turn at narrating the beloved children's tale. And yet Loren is like none of her predecessors. She is delicately sexy in the part. She doesn't so much read the text as purr it."

Philadelphia Inquirer (October 2003)

"The storytellers... lend a special intimacy that transcends age and nationality... Nothing here is cute, condescending or silly; there is not a trace of the hyperbolic, manufactured emotion so common to most audio/video productions for children now, only respect and the natural parity of storytellers and listeners having a good time... The two stories brilliantly complement each other, and yet both narratives stand on their own... Like Prokofiev, Beintus crafts music with enough complexity to pull a child in, but not so much that he or she can’t find a place in its own richly hued landscape, a place so real they can smell woodland breezes, hear paws in tender grasses. Both, as rendered by this always superb orchestra, guarantee imagination-ignition in any kid’s brain within ten bars." (October 2003) [more]

"Watch out, Richard Baker, Angela Rippon and other narrators of Prokofiev, Walton and such musical yarn-spinners. Here comes the dream team, with a top-notch orchestra under Kent Nagano... Clinton offers an amiable ramble through [Wolf Tracks]. La Loren has only to say ‘Are you sitting comfortably?’ for this reviewer’s ears to prick up, proving as charming a guide as any through [Peter and the Wolf's] zany animal world."

The Observer (London) (October 2003)

"Sophia Loren's reading of the Prokofiev is delightful... Pentatone's multi-channel recording is outstanding in its clarity and impact... It's an attractive, unusual CD, for a good cause."

Classical CD Review (October 2003)

"October 2003 brought fresh performers and performances to SACD... notable from PentaTone [is] a gorgeous premiere recording of Jean-Pascal Beintus's Wolf Tracks." (October 2003)

"...if you're looking for a good recording of "Peter and the Wolf," you might do well to consider this one even amid all the competition out there -- Sophia Loren is an absolutely delightful narrator. It's easy to imagine her performance becoming a treasured keepsake of a child's. "

All Music Guide (October 2003) [more]

"A fundraiser for charity, it is also a technically sophisticated production that can be played on a surround-sound channel if you have one... Bill Clinton is a charming narrator, [and] the booklet is beautifully decked out with paintings by children from Moscow orphanages and a home for the disabled."

Sunday Times, London (September 2003)

"The 42nd US President joins a long line of greats to appear on a recording of 'Peter and the Wolf'... you will not be disappointed."

The Independent (September 2003)

"... Over now to three more virtuoso artistes: Bill Clinton, Sophia Loren, and Mikhail Gorbachev. On Pentatone Classics 5186 011 their instrument is their own voices. Loren reads Peter and the Wolf with an old pro’s skill, never pressing too hard. Clinton, less at home, wraps his Arkansas vowels around Jean-Pascal Beintus’s Wolf Tracks, a new composition in praise of a wolf, a boy and the harmony of humans and nature. Gorbachev, translator at hand, acts as master of ceremonies. Wolf Tracks glides by pleasantly; the Russian National Orchestra and Kent Nagano play like angels; for those with SACD players there is surround sound, and royalties go to worthy causes. I came to poke fun, but really, it’s a sweet disc."

The Times (London) (September 2003)

"Bill Clinton is a born communicator. He brings this exciting new piece of music to life."

Classic FM (August 2003)

What They’re Saying

"I saw the greatest orchestra in the world play Friday night. If you think that's hyperbole, ask anyone who was in Yardley Hall that night. The Russian National Orchestra is the Rolls-Royce of orchestras, no ordinary ensemble."

The Kansas City Star