Compact Disks

smothers.jpg (19788 bytes)Listen to the Smothers Brothers by clicking on their CD cover. 1990

1990  Aesop's Fables the Smothers Brothers Way. Words and Music by John McCarthy. Arranged and Produced by David Carroll. Smothers Brothers. Redway, CA: Music For Little People #2178. Reproduced from 1965 original. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Feb., '92. Extra copy for $5.99 from Don Wheeler, May, '04.

The CD format makes these delightful renditions even more available for use in the classroom or lecture situation. Seven fables are surrounded by an overture and a reprise and are interspersed with five "I'd better stay me" interludes. See my comment on the original record.

1991 The Tiger and the Brahmin. Written by Brian Gleeson. Told by Ben Kingsley. Music by Ravi Shankar and others. Drawings by Kurt Vargö. Boxed with an accompanying story poster. Rowayton, CT: Rabbit Ears Productions. $5.98 somewhere before May, '02.

A lively disk. The accompanying poster has the whole text on its back. As on the audio cassette tape from the same project, both the voice and the music are strong. Kingsley adopts various voices well, especially for the jackal. The sound track of some 25 minutes seems to be followed by an individual instrumental track of each episode without voices. Well done! The package was on sale, reduced from $12.95.

1991  Three Musical Fables. With music by John Rutter. The King's Singers, City of London Sinfonia, The Cambridge Singers. Published by Hinshaw Music, Inc. Omaha: Collegium Records. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '93.

The three stories are "The Reluctant Dragon" with words by David Grant based on a story by Kenneth Grahame, "Brother Heinrich's Christmas" with story and music by John Rutter, and "The Wind in the Willows" with words by David Grant based on the book by Kenneth Grahame. The album is directed especially to Christmas. "Fable" here means "fairy tale." It is a real pleasure to hear both the excellent singing and the clear articulation by singers and readers. The whole production is tasteful, from text to performance. For a special treat, do not miss the sound of Toad's car in the third fable. I also have this presentation on an audio cassette.

1993  Aesop Wrote a Fable. Anthony Thistlethwaite. Printed in France. London: Rolling Acres: Purpleteeth Productions. $9.99 through Ebay from Matt Reynolds at Too Many Records in West Palm Beach, FL, Feb., '99.

This was a lark! I bid not knowing what the disc might entail. The disc is named after one song (the fourth track on the CD, lasting 2:17). That song starts with these words "Aesop wrote a fable about the tortoise and the hare. I always take the scenic route when I want to get somewhere." It soon moves into the refrain about the singer's woman: "She's a natural born lover, and she loves to take her time." Thus she never uses a calendar or remembers dates or hurries. Is she the tortoise or the hare? Aesop, you do not know what you started!

1993 Jean de La Fontaine: Oh! les belles fables! Albert Millaire. Musique de Alexandre Stanké. Illustrations et conception visuelle: Anne Côte. Productions: Les Éditions Stanké. Fabriqué au Québec. Participation Sodec. COF-12-CD. Coffragants. $5 from Ross Coleman, Days Creek, OR, through Ebay, August, '00.

A very nice rendition of sixteen La Fontaine fables, complete with well integrated orchestral support. Millaire has a lovely voice. See the book and cassette that were all apparently done together.

1995  Aesop's Fables. Performed by Eddie Albert, Gregory Hines, Cathy Moriarty, Rod Steiger, and Michael York. 45 minutes. Beverly Hills, CA: Dove Kids: Dove Audio. $16 from Gerard P. Lebel, Lynn, MA, through Ebay, Oct., '99.

Very high quality performance by the readers. After each of the fables, the reader offers a personal remark climaxed by verse written for this disk by Judith Cummings. There is nice musical background to support the readings. If one wanted one English-language disk performance of fables, this would be a good disk to start with.

1997  ABC Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has two fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. GA runs 3:11, features a narrator with a non-native English accent, a woman's voice for the ant, and the moral "We should always make plans for the future." TMCM runs 3:21. The two mice are so eager to be off to the city that they do not even finish the country meal. The country mouse runs--from the cook--head-first into the floorboard before she gets into the hole through it. Then the butler scares off the country mouse for good. Moral: "Better to live a simple and peaceful lifestyle rather than one of luxury and peril. Well, kids, sometimes having the best in life has its price." Confused by that moral, kids?

1997  DEF Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has two fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. They are Tracks 23 and 24. Both feature a narrator with a non-native English accent. "The Farmer And His Sons" (and the bundle of sticks) runs 1:47 and climaxes in the lesson "Working together to get something usually works out best." FG runs 2:27 and emphasizes almost everything in the story. Thus this is a sly old fox, he is very hungry, and he jumps many times. "Sometimes when we cannot get what we want, we pretend that we didn't really want it at all."

1997  GHI Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has two fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. They are Tracks 21 and 22. The first features a male narrator with a non-native English accent. "The Goat And The Fox" runs 2:04 and starts in medias res. When the goat appears, the fox seizes his opportunity. The fox lets the goat first drink and then ask the question about getting out. The fox laughs as he goes on his way. "You should always look carefully before you do something." TH runs 5:03, uses a female narrator, and has mother tortoise announce the moral as a general lesson to her children early in the story. "There's no place I really want to go, so I have no need to go hurrying," Tortoise says to Hare's taunting. Hare goes to sleep a second time upon seeing that tortoise has not made much progress during his nap. "Slow and steady will get you to your goals."

1997  JKL Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has three fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. They are Tracks 23, 24, and 25. The first two feature a male narrator with a non-native English accent. "Jupiter And The Monkey" (and the baby contest) runs 2:02. Jupiter starts to giggle when he sees the monkey baby. "I don't care what Jupiter or anyone else thinks. To me you are the most beautiful baby in the world" "Beauty is in the eye of the beholder." "The King Of The Forest" runs 1:26. The lion is ready to go to war and responds to criticism of them that the donkey and the rabbit have their own gifts. "Everyone is special in his or her own way. You just have to discover what you do best." LM runs 3:31 and uses a female narrator with a second voice for the little mouse. The hunters are so happy with capturing a lion that they go off to a long lunch to celebrate. "Sometimes the weak are able to help the strong. Have you ever helped a grownup do something they had trouble doing themselves?"

1997  MNO Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has two fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. They are Tracks 22 and 23. The first features a male narrator with a non-native English accent. MSA (2:37) has the male narrator imitating various voices along the way. In this version the bridge breaks and the two humans get wet, though the donkey seems to have got away before the bridge broke. I find that version difficult. "You cannot please everyone all the time. Do you best every day and you will please at least one person a day." "Moving Day For The Larks" (2:02) features a female narrator doing chick voices besides her own. The lark family has mother, father, and three little ones. One moment after they move, the farmer comes through with a scythe. "If you want something to get done, sometimes the only way it will get done is if you do it yourself."

1997  PQR Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has two fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. They are Tracks 20 and 21. Both are narrated by a male narrator with a non-native English accent. "The Peacock And The Crane" (2:43) elaborates the tale that has the peacock mocking the crane's drab color; the peacock has to concede that the crane can fly and sing and that the peacock's purpose is to look beautiful. "Do not judge someone by the way he or she looks. It is what is inside that really matters. You are all special in your own way and give to life your own little gift." "The Popular Hare" (3:38) had been told by many animals that he is their best friend. A branch fell on the poor hare and injured one of his hind legs. He knew that the villagers would be out hunting with their dogs the next day. The narrator moderates his voice for various "friends" of the hare: horse, bull, goat, donkey, ox, bear. The hare returned exhausted to his family that night aware that, though he was popular, true friends will always be there to help when you need them most.

1997  STUV Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has two fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. They are Tracks 19 and 20. Both are narrated by a male narrator with a non-native English accent. SW (4:04) has an elaborate argument lasting for weeks and causing both the north wind and the sun to neglect their normal duties. The bet is well expressed; it is about "whichever of us can get the coat off of that farmer." The effects of both north wind and sun are described in cosmic terms. "Often it is easier to get what you want by kindness than by force." "The Vain Jackdaw" (2:36) begins with an old jackdaw draped in peacock feathers. He struts about proudly and is mean to his fellow jackdaws. "Stay away" he says to them "or you will damage my beautiful feathers." He leaves his friends confident that the peacocks will accept him. The peacocks are not fooled. His friends, to whom he then goes for comfort, will have nothing to do with him. "You should never be what you are not. Being yourself is always the best."

1997  WXYZ Songs, Stories, Fables. The Alphabet Series CD. Series compiled by Lucy Toppetta. Music by Matthew Campanozzi. Narration and Singing by Emilu Productions. Manufactured in the USA. New Hope, MN: The Alphabet Series: Mint Studios: Navarre: ©1997 Public Music Inc. Gift of Linda Schlafer, Nov., '97.

This disc has three fables, besides its songs and stories, with a steady background of classical music. They are Tracks 15, 16, and 17. They are narrated by a male narrator with a non-native English accent. "The White Cat And The Imps" (2:37), not really a fable, involves a traveller who has captured a bear and asks to stay in a solitary woodsman's cabin. The latter quickly agrees but mentions that tonight is the night for the trolls' annual banquet in his cabin. During the riotous festivities, one troll feels the bear in the bed in the dark, and soon all the trolls disappear. When they return the next year, they ask about the man's "cat" and hear his response that her seven kittens have grown up in the meantime. Goodbye, trolls! "You should not take advantage of a good-hearted person." "The Wolf in Disguise" (2:14) fools the sheep and the shepherd but waits till dark to grab the fattest sheep he can find. The shepherd comes out early the next morning saying "We want a nice sheep to come to the farmhouse to play with some city children" and picks out this biggest sheep. The wolf runs out of the sheepskin into the dark night. I think this version has to resolve its times. It is unusual in letting the wolf get away alive. "You should not try to fool people, as it may turn around and hurt you." "Yvette's Dream" (2:48) runs through eggs, a goose, sheep, wool, dress, cheeses, a hat, red dancing shoes, a prince, a royal ball, and marriage. For no apparent reason, the jug falls off her head. "There is no harm in daydreaming, but we should reach the first dream before we begin living in the next one. Don't count your chickens before they have hatched."

2001 Anthologie des Fables de La Fontaine. Choisies et lues par Michel Leeb. Illustrées par Philippe de Kemmeter. Hardbound. Paris: Éditions du Layeur. €10 from an unknown source, August, '12.

 

This is a curious book, with a fine CD. The unusualness starts with the book's thin, tall format: 5¾" x 9½". The unusualness continues with the twelve full-page colored illustrations. Their style is lively, primitive, spirited, creative. The French keep using their imaginations on La Fontaine, and the results are delightful for the rest of us! There is a strange thing here: many of the illustrations are separated from their texts. Since there is no table of the illustrations, I will list them here with their pages and, if they are separate, the pages of their texts. They are "The Weasel in the Granary" (17, 15); "The Stag Admiring Himself" (21, 18); UP (33, 35); "The Bulls and the Frogs" (41); TH (49, 51); "The Old Lion" (53); "The Lion and the Mosquito" (57); WC (69, 66); "The Wounded Eagle" (77); "The Angler and the Small Fish" (81, 78); and "The Fox and the Goat" (85). Let me suggest something engaging about each of three of the best among these. The weasel in the granary has eaten books, not grain! In the illustration for "The Bulls and the Frogs," one can see the frogs underwater as well as the bovine love triangle that caused their problems. In "The Wounded Eagle," colors help make clear that it is eagle feathers that have mortally wounded this eagle. FC shows up three times: on the cover, on the verso of the title-page, and on 37. The disc has little or no music but very good voices. I will keep the disc in its holder inside the end-paper at the back of the book.

 

 

2004 Les Fables de La Fontaine. Isabelle Aboulker. Paris: Gallimard Jeunesse Musique. €18.01 from amazon.fr, Sept., '11.

"1 Livre + 1 CD Audio." This high-class CD comes inside the front-cover of a large-format book of the same name published by Gallimard Jeunesse in 2008. The book offers at its back a musical passage from each of the fifteen fables. The fables are rendered in highly complex music involving a number of instruments and several voices. This book and CD bring together a significant collection of songs, texts, facts, and art objects! The CD has imprinted on it the strange illustration of a crow on stilts.

 

2005 La Fontaine and Le Gaucher.  La Fontaine and Le Gaucher.  Pierrejean Gaucher.  Paris: Nocturne.  £2.45 from ianscdstore, Liverpool, through eBay, August, '11

Here is a 50-minute compact disc featuring sixteen fables musically rendered.  Fourteen are in French, with one Italian version of OF and one English version of GA.  Guitars, pianos, accordion, trombone, saxophone, flute, counterbass, and percussion all contribute.  Pierrejean Gaucher did the composition and arrangements of the music.  A few bars of taps for the exploded frog in the Italian version of OF is a nice touch!  FC and WC have multiple parts.  TMCM is wonderfully frantic music, well matched to the lively colored cartoon work!  Overall, the disc shows a strong integration of poetry and music. 

 

2006 The Tortoise and the Hare & the Lion and the Mouse. Greensboro, NC: Once Upon a Tune: Kindermusik International. $3.95 from Chuck Wolfe through eBay, April, '08.

This CD accompanies a book. Let me repeat what I wrote there. Here is a creative effort spreading into new directions. The two stories are well done. Eventually the other animals refuse to race Hare. Cocky Hare proclaims "But I love to race! Racing is what I do best! One of you should race me!" Tortoise, when Hare laughs at his offer, responds "I know I'm slow. So what do I have to lose? I'm the only one you haven't raced--and I just might surprise you!" Hare rests near the goal line at the stream. After the race, Hare proves to be a good loser. LM is similarly well told. The picture of the laughing lion may be the best, and it is well echoed by the laughing of the other lions when he returns to the pride. The book's special gifts go in two directions. First, each of the three pages of either story folds out. The pages themselves are more like thin plastic than paper. The foldout is there to receive any of the twenty-nine stickers of animals in various poses and positions. The scenes are well conceived for arrangement of the figures: three portions of the path in TH and various parts of the savannah for LM. The folding work on the foldout pages is particularly good. Each time, the foldover picture is perfectly integrated with the scene it covers. Secondly, there is a fine CD that comes with the book. TH has three segments of narration punctuated by three songs. The musical work is good, from orchestral backup to animals' voices. LM's spoken narrative is especially fine for the mouse's responses to the lion's statements. Again, there are three songs.

 

2007 Classic Fables. Texts from Joseph Jacobs. Dalian University of Technology Press Co., Ltd. 19.80 Yuan from Hangzhou Wholesale City Trading Co., Oct., '10.

This disc accompanies a paperbound book with the same title. The CD runs through the 150 stories consecutively beginning with the first. There is a female reader and no musical background. The reader's British accent is excellent. In the first few fables, she trips only once, pronouncing the word "begged" in two syllables. Somehow there are only 149 story tracks on the CD. Some eager researcher can pursue this question: "Which of the 150 stories is omitted on the CD?" Click on the image to see a larger version.

 

2009 Fables de La Fontaine. Composition, direction musicale et réalization: Pierre-Gérard Verny. For use with the book Fables de La Fontaine sur des airs de jazz. Paris: Flammarion: Père Castor. €19.81 for the book, including the CD, from Amazon.fr, Oct., '11.

Of the twenty-eight fables in the book, twelve are selected for presentation in a jazz mode here. The titles for the music are clever, e.g., "Le blues de la Cigale," "La fugue du Renard," and "La marche de la Tortue." The disc runs some 79 minutes. The final piece puts together two stories of the "smaller," LM and AD, in "Le medley des plus petits." The musical score for "La marche de la Tortue" is at the end of the book.

2010 Fables de Jean de La Fontaine Lues par Gérard Philipe et ses Compères. Illustrations by Bruno Vacaro. Hardbound. Vandrezanne: Le Chant du Monde. €19.90 from L'Écume des Pages, Paris, July, '12.

 

This is a fine book with an excellent compact disc. Twenty fables appear, with at least one fine, detailed, full-page colored illustration per fable. The best among these illustrations may be for "The Coach and the Fly" (5), as the mosquito stands sweating after the coach can start downhill; for "The Small Fish and the Angler" (11); for GA (21); for "The Wolves and the Sheep" (32), where wolf and sheep bump fists to clinch their deal; and for OF (34). The illustrations are lively. There is a T of C on the back cover. The actors on the disc come from Le Théâtre Français. The tracks feature only voices, but they are excellent and nicely varied voices. The French keep on presenting their La Fontaine with distinction!
 

 

 

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