Classical

Animal Magnetism

16 APR 08 VIVIEN SCHWEITZER

Nature and animals have long inspired artists, from painters to composers, who have imitated the sounds of thundering hooves or bird call in their scores. Classical Zoo: Carnival Of The Animals, a Telarc re-release, features the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra conducted by Yoel Levi and Louis Lane performing colorful, animal-inspired works by Respighi, Sibelius, Rossini and Saint-Saëns.

The disc includes Respighi's "The Thieving Magpie," based on a sad story of an innocent girl punished for a magpie's crime. Respighi's "The Birds," written in 1927, is an arrangement of Renaissance and baroque lute and keyboard pieces, which respect the flavor of the original courtly songs and their aviary references. The ornaments in "The Dove," for example, evoke rustling wings.

Also included on the disc is "The Swan of Tuonela," Sibelius's nostalgic, evocative tone poem depicting the mythical swan and his magical habitat, and Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals." When Saint-Saëns wrote the work he considered it a musical joke and refused to allow its publication during his lifetime. This recording features witty new poems by Bruce Adolphe, instead of the Ogden Nash poems it is usually paired with. Itzhak Perlman narrates with great energy and an array of comic voices and dialects.