"Pincus and The Pig: A Klezmer Tale"
Based on Serge Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf"
Story written and narrated by Maurice Sendak
Music arranged and performed by Shirim Klezmer Orchestra
Winner of 2005 Parent's Choice Gold Award and 2005 American Library Association's Notable Children's Recording Award!
Package includes CD, full color story booklet with illustrations by Maurice Sendak.
"Did you hear of Boychick Pincus, how he opened wide the gate and hippety-hopped over the sweet warm meadow?" So begins internationally acclaimed children's author Maurice Sendak's inimitable recasting of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf," where Peter becomes Pincus and the wolf is Chozzer Pig. Along with Shirim Klezmer Orchestra, Sendak has created a Jewish tour de force, resonating with Jewish humor, mysterious subtexts, and aural slapstick that appeals to all generations. The transformation from the Russian "Peter and the Wolf" into a Jewish "Pincus and the Pig" is surprisingly organic and natural, highlighting the deep relationship between Jewish and Russian music, culture, and story.
This is a major new work for Sendak, and in many ways his most intimate and involved. He has rewritten Prokofiev's classic tale, changing the characters and tone, using it as a launching point to explore his strong Jewish roots and family history. He has created masterful illustrations of the characters, and has performed the narration with a rich Yiddish accent. This is Sendak speaking from his heart in a voice that is clearly natural and uncontrived, using colorful Yiddish expressions with a gravity and clarity of intent that makes unfamiliar colloquialisms easy for all to understand. He uses familiar Yiddish words: "klutz" and "schlemiel," as well as the more obscure but equally expressive "farshtinkener"(stinky) and "nudnick"(loser). His affection for the innocent but courageous Pincus shines through in his voice, and the deeper meanings of the symbolic Chozzer Pig are revealed by his seething delivery.
"Pincus & the Pig" is a remarkable collaboration of like minds. Sendak created "Pincus and the Pig" with Shirim, whom he was familiar with through their irreverent klezmer version of Tchiakovsky's "Nutcracker Suite" ("Klezmer Nutcracker," available on Newport Classic). Shirim, one of the finest traditional klezmer bands on the scene today, has turned out a score and performance that Spike Jones and Dave Tarras would be proud of: funny, soulful, concise and Jewish. Great use is made of the colors of this fabulous klezmer septet. Peter's theme becomes a Jewish-Russian dance played on the clarinet in a Jewish scale, perfect for Pincus. The cat's melody is performed on the banjo with a seductive Middle-Eastern rhythm. The bird chirps and flutters through the virtuosic piano part, while the very Jewish duck quacks away through the trombone to a Chassidic rhythm. Zeyde (grandfather) is solidly portrayed in a Jewish-Romanian hora rhythm by the tuba, and the hunters (now Cossacks) shoot with the sound of the drum. The terrifying wild pig (Chozzer) makes a striking appearance as performed by the trombone and tuba in a Jewish Doina style.
As the classical "Peter and the Wolf" is often paired with great orchestra music the whole family will enjoy, Shirim has created klezmer interpretations of Rimsky-Korsakov's "Scheherezade," a Brahms waltz, a Satie "Gnossienne" and a show-stopping rendition of Mahler's "Fifth Symphony" to fill out the album. This is a deluxe package with Sendak's marvelous illustrations in a booklet and, for the kids, stickers featuring all seven of the original characters he created for this piece. The story is printed in the booklet and, for the adults, a humorous glossary of the Yiddish terms by Fishel Bressler.
Maurice Sendak, script and artwork
The winner of the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Where the Wild Things Are, and the only American illustrator to win the international Hans Christian Andersen Award (in 1970, for his body of work), Maurice Sendak is a visionary figure in children's literature. Having begun by illustrating the works of others - eventually including Else Holmelund Minarik, Randall Jarrell, Isaac Bashevis Singer, and the Brothers Grimm - by 1956, with Kenny's Window, he had begun to create his own texts as well as illustrations. Also a distinguished set and costume designer for opera and ballet companies, he has designed productions of Mozart's The Magic Flute, Janácek's The Cunning Little Vixen, Prokofiev's The Love for Three Oranges, and Oliver Knussen's operas based on his Where the Wild Things Are and Higglety Pigglety Pop! In 1990, Mr. Sendak co-founded The Night Kitchen, a national theater company devoted to the development of quality productions for children. He has received numerous honorary degrees and in 1997 he was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.
Shirim Klezmer Orchestra
Shirim Klezmer Orchestra is Glenn Dickson, clarinet; David Harris, trombone; Brandon Seabrook, banjo and mandolin; Michael McLaughlin, piano and accordion; Jim Gray, tuba; Eric Rosenthal, drums. They have performed internationally in Europe and North America. They have released five recordings including "The Golden Dreydl, a Klezmer Nutcracker for Hanukkah," a collaboration with Public Radio International Sound & Spirit host Ellen Kushner on Rykodisc, and "Klezmer Nutcracker" on Newport Classic. Their work with Ellen Kushner is broadcast annually at Hanukkah on public radio throughout the country and they are featured on the soundtrack of Woody Allen's "Deconstructing Harry." The band members are also well know for their work as Naftule's Dream, a band prominent contributors in the Radical Jewish Culture movement centered in New York and recorded on the Tzadik and Knitting Factory labels.
Glenn Dickson has composed and arranged much of the music for Shirim and Naftule's Dream. His composition was used by Woody Allen in his film, "Deconstructing Harry," and he has won a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant for composition. David Harris has also won a Massachusetts Cultural Council grant for composition and is a member composer of the Boston Jazz Composer's Alliance. He has composed and arranged for Shirim and Naftule's Dream as well as the Jazz Composer's Alliance. Michael McLaughlin has his masters in Music Composition from Tufts University and has also won the Massachusetts Cultural Council grant for composition, as well as many other composition grants. He has arranged and composed music for Shirim and Naftule's Dream and Ellen Kushner on a Purim special aired on National Public Radio.