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Len Mullenger:

Patrick DOYLE, Wynton MARSALIS
, and Edgar MEYER
Listen to the Storyteller - A Trio of Musical Tales from Around The World
- told by Kate Winslet, Wynton Marsalis and Graham Greene
Joshua Bell (violin); Edgar Meyer (Bass solo); Jerry Douglas (Dobro solo) Orchestra of St. Lukes conducted by Robert Sadin (The Fiddler and the Dancin' Witch) and Steven Mercurio
SONY SK 60283 [59:41]

With Patrick Doyle's music for one of these tales narrated by Kate Winslet, the movies connection is quite clear. These three enchanting tales are enhanced by music that heightens atmosphere character and action. I listened with my eleven-year-old step-granddaughter and I append her assessment as well as my own, plus her ratings.

Patrick Doyle - The Face in the Lake (narrated by Kate Winslet)

This story has the most lyrical music reminding one of Doyle's score for Much Ado About Nothing. The story is about the beautiful young maiden, Olwen who brings Spring. But she is imprisoned in the ice castle of Winter who is loth to loose his icy grip on the earth. How Winter's shy brother Jardur, helps her to escape and how Winter pursues them throwing great blizzards in their path, before they succeed in bringing warmth back to the world, is the essence of the story. Kate Winslet is an appealing and natural storyteller.

Raya Verrecchia comments: This was my favourite of the three stories. The story had a pleasing plot. The storyteller was very good, the way she told it really involved you in the story. The music went very well with the story and what happened. At the beginning it was floaty and spring-like and when Winter arrived the music became more dramatic and darker.

Wynton Marsalis - The Fiddler and the Dancin' Witch

Wynton Marsalis contributes a witty narration as well as more astringent but characterful music for this tale of the disobedient boy whose craving to play his father's violin, despite his parent's dire warnings, summons its former owner, a foul witch who demands her instrument back. The story tells how Simeon outwits her. Marsalis' music cleverly suggests the strictures and exasperation of the father, the headstrong attitude of Simeon and the spiteful wickedness of the witch. Joshua Bell has plenty of opportunity to show off his dazzling virtuosity especially in the frenzied witch's dance. The music is for violin and strings only and early on there is a vague resemblance to Bernard Herrmann's music for Hitchcock's Psycho and Vertigo to provide the necessary foreboding atmosphere.

Raya Verrechia comments: I liked this one the least, because there were too many pauses in the story line and Marsalis did not tell the story very well, he did not change the tone of his voice to suit the different characters. The music was very dramatic - too dramatic for the story. I thought the violinist was over enthusiastic and sounded rather vain.

Edgar Meyer - The Lesson of the Land (narrator: Graham Greene).

This is a story about three young American Indian lads who set off on a quest to find their manhood.

Meyer's music is very evocative and atmospheric of the landscape and its wildlife. The music is simple but effective and it has, in places, an almost classical formality. Take for instance the use of canon in the passage descriptive of the boys' climb up the mountainside. Characterisation is sharp: the double bass is wittily used to depict the 'mighty bear' that teaches Little Bear to fish and the darting fish in glittering waters is beautifully caught by the clarinet.

Raya Verrecchia comments: The music was very descriptive and very exciting. The story had a very good plot with an interesting twist and it was well told - although it was more for older children about ten because the words were rather hard. I enjoyed the music between the bits of storytelling. 

Raya Verrecchia

The Face in the Lake: Story **** Storyteller **** Music****

The Fiddler and the Dancin' Witch: Story ***(*) Storyteller ** Music **(*)

The Lesson of the Land: Story ****Storyteller **** Music ***(*)


Raya Verrecchia

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