This pairing of two narrator-and-orchestra pieces slanted toward children seems to be a workable concept. It is hampered a bit for those of us whose francais is mauvais by the failure to have English translations supplied. The main focus here is on the actor-narrator known as Smain who is evidently popular in France and has narrated both works and written a new text for the Saint-Saens suite. Since the narration is such a major attraction of both productions, this would probably appeal primarily to French speaking children and parents.
The Little Tailor is based on one of the typically grim Grimm fairy tales but from what I can piece together of the narration, the fairy tale has been prettied up a bit to fit musical needs. It involves a brave little tailor who succeeds in passing a series of challenges which the king has imposed on him to gain the hand of his daughter. The story offers possibilites for royal processions similar to the processions of the animals in Saint-Saens’ Carnival. Smain’s text for Carnival is not a series of limericks a la Ogden Nash but his youthful audience seems to appreciate its humor. Those preferring the all instrumental Carnival should look elsewhere. A major difference musically between the two suites is the instrumentation of the Harsanyi suite for seven instruments and percussion. Both performances were recorded live in Geneva with an appreciative audience of children and the surround sonics are first rate.
– John Sunier