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Single CDs

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. To listen to these renditions, visit Internet Archive.  See my comment on the original record

 

1991  Fables de La Fontaine.  CD.  Fables as songs by Lecocq, Offenbach, Gounod, Caplet, de Manziarly, Van Parys, and Trenet.  EMI Classics.  $17.95 from Gennady Smolyakov, Albuquerque, NM, through Amazon Marketplace, August, '15.

This CD was a revelation to me, through its 22 tracks, of the rich heritage of presentation of La Fontaine's fables as songs.  I enjoyed them!  Collaborators here are piano and four voices.  Lecocq's WL is an excellent example of contrasting wolf and lamb voices.  He also has a wonderfully dramatic finish to FC.  I found Offenbach's "Shepherd and Sea" eminently understandable.  The same goes for his GA.  Gounod has several voices, not necessarily in unison, working at once.  Caplet and de Manziarly are more "modern," that is, less pretty and perhaps predictable.  I enjoyed particularly Caplet's WL with its great closing line and de Manziarly's OF.  I found Van Parys more easily comprehensible in his FC, including the inserted "coi, coi, coi."  Trenet's GA, among the shortest offerings, seemed to me more playful than others.  An auditory treat!

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  Fables: A Musical by Robert Marcelonis.  CD.  A restoration of the musical highlights taken from the original recordings.  Produced by John Simon at J-Dog Music.  JDM002.  Gift of Miriam Barnett, Director of the musical, together with a videocopied program and personal note.

33 tracks, listed on the back of the CD jewel-case label.  Marcelonis died of AIDS in Philadelphia in 1995.  This musical was "was a continual work in progress from High School until he was forty.  His artist friends came together and performed the play to standing room only audiences, sold out for its run" (Wikipedia).  The Wikipedia account of his life is touching.  It is not easy to match song and fable just by reading titles and listening to tracks.  Some of the more obvious connections are in "The Belly As an Animal"; "Earn Your Keep"; "We Want a King"; "The Heiffer and the Ox"; and "Death."

 

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.

1999  Aesop's Fables.  CD.  Imagination Station.  Imagelot Entertainment.  Almost 23 minutes.  $5.99 from Bidhere125 on Ebay, Oct., '03. 

Eight fables are performed quite exquisitely here, if the two that I enjoyed are any indication.  LM is well performed, with good voices and sound effects.  The lion seeks a nap in several places and finally finds the right one.  The chatty female mouse gets off a great appeal, concluding with the appeal to become a friend.  A week later she hears his roar and saves him.  FG is also well told.  Clearly articulated morals. 

2000  Aesop's Fables.  Read by Anton Lesser.  With music from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and other concertos.  Naxos Audiobooks: Junior Classics.  Made in Germany.  Unknown source

As in the promotional CD done by the Sunday Telegraph, the Vivaldi background contributes, as do sound effects, and voice transformations from Lesser.  Naxos had used this same recording on an audio cassette in our collection from 2000 and for the Telegraph promotion.  Again there are 66 tracks.  The stories are kept brief, and they are both well fashioned and well narrated.  Of course there is a British accent.  Lesser creates contrasting voices well for the lamb and the crane in the first stories, which I enjoyed.  This may be the best simple CD recording of Aesop to recommend to listeners. 

2000?  The Sunday Telegraph Bedtime Stories: Aesop's Fables.  Read by Anton Lesser.  With music from Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" and other concertos.  Telegraph.co.uk.  For promotional use only: not for sale.  Naxos Audiobooks.  $10 from Xena 1309, Maryborough, Queensland, Australia, through Ebay, June, '10. 

The Vivaldi background contributes, as do sound effects, and voice transformations from Lesser.  Naxos used this same recording on an audio cassette in our collection from 2000, and they will release it again on a CD for sale.  66 tracks.  The stories are kept brief, and they are both well fashioned and well narrated.  Of course there is a British accent.  Lesser creates contrasting voices well for the lamb and the crane in the first stories, which I enjoyed.  This may be the best simple CD recording of Aesop to recommend to listeners. 

 

2001  Aesop: Alive and Well.  CD.  Diane Ferlatte, Storyteller.  Erik Pearson, Guitarist.  San Francisco: Olde West Inc.  $4.64 from Jukebox On-Line, WindGap, PA, Nov., '09.

Guitar background.  Lively sung introductions to Aesop and to his life, followed by five stories 6 to 12 minutes in length.  CP, BW, AD, "The Monkey & the Donkey," and DS.  At the end there is a reprise of "Aesop, Alive and Well."  I listened to "Poor Crow" and "The Shepherd Boy."  Ferlatte continues to tell of Aesop's life between fables.  Narration moves easily into song.  The renditions are engaging.  For example, the dying laugh of the shepherd boy at others' expense is very well done.

2001  Aesop's Fables.  Unabridged.  4 CDs.  "Tracks every 3 minutes."  Read by Mary Woods.  Ashland, OR: Blackstone Audiobooks.  Unknown source.

Good readings without further accompaniment.  The cover illustration of TH is taken from Arthur Rackham.

2001  Aesop's Fables: Two Enchanting Tales in Story & Song.  CD.  "Donkey and Wolf" and BW.  Purchased used.  Los Angeles: Liberty International Publishing with Drive Entertainment.  Unknown source.

Wow!  A full orchestra leads us, with a full chorus, into a narrator's energetic telling of the hungry wolf's approach to the waterhole.  "I'm a Lone Wolf" is a great lonely monologue-song!  A flirtatious donkey knows nothing of the wolf's eating intentions, even when he says she could use a little make-up, like ketchup!  When she understands, she sings "Why Me?" to a cha-cha rhythm.  This is perhaps the most professional musical presentation of Aesop I have run into.  He answers with "Nothing Personal."  He is just a wolf!  She mentions the nasty thorn in her hoof….  Aesop comes through!  She is just being herself!  The shepherd boy is just lonely.  He makes his cries in order to see another human face.  The recording has the chorus singing the same "To the Rescue" song more and more slowly with each of his several calls for help.  It is a delight to listen through this performance!

2003  Hover: Six Fables.  Chamber Choir of Armenia.  Based on the writings of Vardan Aigetski.  New music composed by Stepan Babatorosyan.  Cambridge, MA: Pomegranate Music.  From Oddbanana through Ebay: uncertain cost and date.

This is lovely contemporary orchestral and vocal music.  Beautifully, professionally executed.  Of course it is all in Armenian!  Three of these six fables are Aesopic in one way or another, although my sense from the texts offered here in English in the accompanying booklet is that they are more morality tales than fables.  "The Eagle and the Arrow" is straight from Aesop.  "The Ailing Lion and the Fox" is also straight from Aesop, though in this "Eastern" version it is a donkey's ears and heart that are in question.  In Western Europe, at issue was a deer's heart that the fox eats and then tells the lion that the deer had none.  In a switch from a different fable, the lion was told that he needed these things to cure his disease.  The young camels and donkeys ask their mothers why they have to work for food but the pigs do not.  The mothers answer that patience brings understanding.  The understanding comes on slaughter day for the pigs!  Aesop survives in a lot of ways in a lot of places!

2004  Aesop Goes Modern.  CD.  29 tracks.  Directed by Daniele J. Suissa.  Written by Kim Terrell.  Produced by Marc Solomon.  Virtual Theatre Project.  Boris Trajbar, Boca Raton, FL, through Ebay.

"Charming Educational Stories for Ages 4 and Up!"  I agree.  Seven-year-old Asher meets Aesop and Aesop's father, and they start to tell him fables.  They wisely tell him early that there is no right answer to a story.  There are musical interludes leading into this encounter and filling in as Asher asks other people what they think a fable means and returns with his best "answer."  The last track in fact has a lyre playing for the donkey who cannot play it himself.  Track 20 brings Danielle, who recites a La Fontaine's DW section by section in French, and Aesop translates.  This version pleases me more than the one Aesop presented as his first fable.  I expected a more radical "modernization" of Aesop here.  I would say that his storytelling is here taken seriously for what it is.

2005 An Aesop Adventure.  For use with a booklet of the same name, featuring "Fables, Songs and Activities for the Elementary Classroom."  By Cristi Cary Miller and Sally Raymond.  Hal Leonard Corporation.  $5 from an unknown source, Sept., '10.

Here are lively musical tracks, both vocal and purely instrumental, to accompany each of the booklet's eight fables.   For example, the song for "The Farmer and the Stork" stresses that bad company will hurt a person.  FG gets the repeated refrain "Hey, what do you say?  He didn't want it anyway."  This music is certainly upbeat!  The purely instrumental version of each would allow the students to sing to musical accompaniment.  The musical titles, listed on the CD, help communicate these lessons well.  "Nobody Believes a Liar" and "One Step at a Time" are good examples.  At first I listened to this disc without reference to its booklet and without seeing these titles, and I sometimes had to wonder which fable might be involved.

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.

2008  Barkface & Rootnose and Other Fables.  Jonathan Kruk, Master Storyteller.  Music by Matt Noble.  Dedicated to "Fr. Greg --  One tale is good till another is told."  Signed by Jonathan Kruk.  Berger Platters.  Gift of Jonathan Kruk, Nov., '09.  A second copy is inscribed "Enjoy!  I hope this makes a worthy addition to your collection!  Jonathan Kruk."  This copy adds to the first: "Parents' Choice Approved."

I taught Jonathan in a course probably called "Greek Literature" at Holy Cross College in the 1970's.   In a course in which students had to make some artwork in response to the literature we were reading, Jonathan made a wild oversized line-drawing of Jason making an indecent gesture to Medea with her children lying dead in the Sun-God's cart.  The crazy, many-viewpointed drawing featured a cameo of Fr. Carlson!  I displayed it proudly to years of subsequent students as I enlisted their artworks.  In this disc we hear six stories with excellent sound effects, music, and various voices: "Barkface and Rootnose"; "Big Fish Small Pond": "Fox & Crow"; "Rabbit & Turtle"; "Squeak & Roar"; and "Tailor's Tale".  The third, fourth, and fifth, are traditional Aesopic fables well told.  The first story is about competing seeds who, as trees, learn to work together.  Big fish learns that the big river has lots of threats in it and returns happy to the little pond.  In LM, the mouse spearheads a movement to help the lion, and then maybe "he will not be so mean."  The mouse helps when the lion has got a thorn in his paw.  In a second phase, the lion is caught in a hunter's net.  "Tailor's Tale" is a tale told for the fun of telling a tale.  Good work, Jonathan!  Your old teacher more than approves!

2009 Auricolae: Fairy Tales Folklore & Fables.  Storytelling and music for violin, cello and narrator.  Artistic Director and narrator David Yang.  $4.99 from Second Spin Disk, Plainville, CT, through Ebay, May, '20. 

Here is a delightful rendition of six stories, the second of them with three different endings.  Alas, I do not find a tale that I would call a fable among them.  They are: "Ferdinand the Bull"; "The Rascally Rogue of the Beanstalk"; Rogue Endings A, B, C; "Rumpelstilskin"; "Adventure at Granny's"; "Prince Rooster"; "Three Little Pigs."  The stories are well told, with excellent musical complements.

2010 Julia Deans: Modern Fables.  Songs written and performed by Julia Deans, with orchestral and vocal accompaniment.  Recorded in a number of places.  GBP5 from Douglashearma-O on Ebay, April, '19.

Ten love songs.  The second is "Modern Fables." It is a challenge for me to put together.

2010?  Aesop's Fables.  20 fables in five groups of four each, with the title-story of each group featured on the clamshell cover.  Pegasus Audio Book.  Pegasus: B. Jain Publishers Ltd.  $2 from an unknown source.

A female British voice tells the stories, listed in their groups on the back cover of the clamshell.  The format of the clamshell front cover suggested that Jain had actually published a five-book series in 2010.  A bit of snooping online and I found and ordered the set, along with an enclosed CD.  Now let us see if this is the CD that comes.

2011  Das Grosse Fabel- und Tiermärchen Hörbuch.  2 CDs: Fabeln von Jean de La Fontaine.  2 CDs: Tiermärchen von Manfred Kyber.  Gelesen von Andreas Muthesius.  Made in Germany.  Merenberg, Germany: ZYX Music GmbH.  $11.04 from Grooves-Inc, Basel, Switzerland, through Ebay, Nov., '11.

Muthesius' portrayal of these fables and Märchen is delightful, with helpful musical background by Ismail Boulaghmal and wonderfully varied voices.  I wish we were told who did the verse translations of La Fontaine.  Kyber is new to me.  His stories are longer, more developed, and perhaps more modulated than most fables.  I listened to three and found them all delightful: "Der K.d.R."; "Der grosse Augenblick" and "Die Haselmaushochzeit." 

 

2012  Aesop's Fables: Volume One.  Two CDs.  20 stories.  Various narrators.  Kingston, RI: AudioGO.  $9.95 online, Jan., '09. 

The special value of this set lies in the gifted British narrators and expansive development of the storylines.  The actors employ various voices within each fable and have sound effects and occasional musical background to help them.  I listened to the first two fables on each disc.  In this version of TH, the hare runs back to tell the tortoise that the race has started!  He then announces that he will take a nap, apparently near the starting line.  "Slow and steady is sometimes better than fast and flashy."  In OF, one of the mother frog's 247 children tells her of the ox.  She is overweight and hates exercise.  She does not make it all the way to see the ox, but whizzes around like a balloon and lands at the ox's feet.  Her mistake relied on her perception that "No creature in the pond is bigger than me."  The wolf in WC spends most of his time thinking of food.  He would love to try eating the moon and stars if he could.  A fishbone gets stuck.  This version of the story thus cleverly uses the river to introduce the heron as the wolf's savior.  "I didn't bite your head off: that is your reward!"  The "hee-haw" of the donkey in DLS gives him away to the fox.  This donkey had long wanted to be something else.  The other animals had laughed at him before and now they do again.  In something of a surprise, the other animals tell the donkey "We like you just as you are."

2012  Trapped in Aesop's Fables.  A fully dramatized Audio Book.  Lifehouse theater On-the-Air.  Executive Producer Wayne Scott.  InspiredInspirations Media.  Unknown source.

Twelve-year-old Henry, freshly chastised by his father as he brings home an old chest, finds the chest opening and beckoning to him.  The chest offers books with a quest.  Of course Henry opens one of the mysterious books and meets Aesop in a time warp.  Aesop challenges him to figure out the life lessons from five stories, and then he can escape.  Soon Henry has six legs and learns that he is a grasshopper and has to transition from easy summer to hungry winter.  Henry is dying and finds no life lesson to learn.  He fails his first test, and Aesop has to explain it to him.  I left Henry as a hare in the second story running like crazy.

2017  Aesop's Fables with Colin Hay.  Written by Tom Graves.  E-book and spoken CD.  Memphis, TN: Devault-Graves Agency.  Gifts of Tom Graves, March, '17.

Tom and I had corresponded as he was on his way to creating this E-Book and spoken CD.  He decided – wisely, I would say -- to use images from Milo Winter and Arthur Rackham.  My sense is that Tom's versions enter into the stories' details with a loving eye, and that Colin Hay renders the stories with a loving ear and voice.  Aesop keeps inspiring people to add their part!  This very nice work is a labor of love!

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