Fairy Tales, Folklore & Fables = Storytelling and Music – Auricolae – New Focus 108, 67:01 [cdbaby.com] ***1/2:
To be fair, Aurocolae is David Yang (Artistic Director and narrator), Beverly Shin (violin), Jesse Mills (violin), Cheng Hou Lee (Cello). What we have here is a children’s disc – famous stories told in an intelligent and accessible way accompanied by music created for such, and that has been pre-tested on thousands of students in the Delaware Valley. One cannot but admire the commitment and educational effort that goes into such an undertaking, especially in these days when troglodyte school superintendents and their lackey boards of education are eliminating music programs (like here in the Atlanta area), and for that reason alone this disc would deserve attention. The stories are presented with energy and great panache, cleverly arranged for (mostly) violin and cello, and convincingly scored musically.
Of course, a CD is another thing, and I found this whole undertaking quite tiring by the time it was first through. I would recommend only one or two at a time, as I am sure that children would have an even tougher time with it, as attention spans are not noted for longevity at an early age. So I am not quite certain about the audience for this disc; classical musical aficionados will find it of limited use unless they have small kids, though it can be fun on first hearing. Those wishing to use it for children will be in for quite a treat, though I imagine a live hearing would better serve the purpose.
The playing is superb; I cannot reasonably imagine better, and production values, like the wonderful cartoon images that adorn each side of each cover of this disc are clever and very well done. Congrats to all concerned, though potential buyers should be aware of exactly what this is. I hope the disc and the music finds a wide intended audience.
1. Ferdinand the Bull 2. Rascally Rogue of the Beanstalk 3-5. Alternative Rogue Endings 6. Rumpilstilskin 7. Adventure at Granny’s 8. Prince Rooster 9. Three Little Pigs
— Steven Ritter