Britten, Benjamin, PROKOFIEV: Peter and the Wolf [Dame Edna Everage] [Naxos Childrens Classics], Humphries, Barry
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I have always loved music and I'm not ashamed to say that music rather loves me Although I'm not a trained singer, internationally acclaimed conductors and music buffs the world over always put me up there with Dame Joan Sutherland, Dame Kiri and any other dame you care to mention Needless to say, it's a big thrill for me to at last record one of my favourite pieces of classical music, Peter and the Wolf, I tend to believe in reincarnation, call me old fashioned but I do, and it may interest you to know that lam actually the reincarnation of Serge Prokofiev's mother. She was a wonderful old Russian housewife, and when little Serge was knee-high to a grasshopper she would put him on her knee and croon old-fashioned folk-tunes to him. Needless to say, this had a profound effect on the young composer and most of those tunes his mother hummed are in his masterpiece, Peter and the Wolf.
That's why I'm an absolute natural to record this work. Many people have done it before, I know, but this has to be the authentic performance After all, I actually wrote it in a spooky kind of way, so I ought to know how to perform it - don't you agree, possums? To make this the absolute definitive performance the orchestra is the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, hand-picked players from my own home town, and arguably the finest group of musicians on the planet.
I've always been a big Benjamin Britten fan, possums, and his masterpiece, The Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra is one of my favourite pieces. It's tuneful and educational, and I know this magnificent recording featuring myself will earn him many new fans. Poor old Benjamin rather blotted his copybook in Australia many moons ago when he visited the Sydney Opera House as it was being constructed. Admittedly, that famous building was having a few teething troubles and the orchestra pit was a bit on the cramped side. When Benjamin saw it he commented on its dimensions, and an Australian official - I think it was Sir Les Patterson - said \What's wrong with it? You can fit a whole orchestra in there". "Perhaps", replied Benjamin in a rather English voice (excusable, since he was English) "a whole orchestra of Japanese piccolo players!"
It was a rather cruel thing to say, I suppose, and Australians rather took it to heart, banning performances of his music throughout Australia for many years thereafter. Now, however, the thaw has set in and dear old Benjamin's music is being played once more in Australia, on this occasion by my favourite band, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra. Let me guide you through it on this magnificent compact disc.
Oh yes, I nearly forgot; also on this recording, my manager Barry Humphries does a reasonably good job of narrating the story of Babar the Elephant. I used to read this wonderful story to my children when they were young It's by a Frenchman, but very good nonetheless. It would be mean of me to say anything derogatory about Barry's performance, since he tries very, very hard and the music is absolutely gorgeous.
Dame Edna Everage