Sting narrates 'Peter . . . Wolf' for classical label

MUSIC REVIEW

September 02, 1991|By Knight-Ridder News Service

Through the years a few pop, rock and jazz musicians have crossed the bridge that separates their art from the classics.

A few years back, for instance, Linda Ronstadt sang Mimi in Puccini's "La Boheme" at New York's Public Theatre. David Bowie recorded the narration for Britten's "Young Person's Guide to the Orchestra."

This summer, an orchestral work by David Byrne of Talking Heads was performed by the New York City-based Orchestra of St. Luke's. And ex-Beatle Paul McCartney composed a 97-minute oratorio that premiered in England last month.

So it should come as no surprise that British rock star Sting, who is now on the road with his "Soul Cages" tour and will perform Sept. 18 at Merriweather Post Pavilion, has collaborated with Italian conductor Claudio Abbado and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe on a new recording of Prokofiev's "Peter and the Wolf" for Deutsche Grammophon, a major classical label.

In fact, Sting, born Gordon Sumner 40 years ago next October, is no stranger to classical music.

A few years back he narrated Stravinsky's "Soldier's Tale" for a recording on his own Pangaea label.

Based on his own children's reactions to other recordings, he decided to use his natural speaking voice only for Peter, making up voices for the rest of the characters.

He starts by whistling Peter's theme and then, in a transparently clear diction many opera singers would covet, tells the tale with confident aplomb.

Along the way he chuckles, whispers, and even imitates the gulp with which the wolf swallows the duck.

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