Oliver Knussen: Where The Wild Things Are

Album cover art for upc 028946955628
Label: DG
Catalog: 4695562
Format: CD

Buchan, Saffer, Hardy, Gillett, Richardson, London Sinfonietta, Knussen

Maurice Sendak's children's books have won thanks from countless parents whose bedtime reading chores were turned to adult delights. Set to the adventurous music of Oliver Knussen, they'll appeal to lovers of sophisticated fantasy works like Ravel's L'Enfant et les sortileges. Higglety Pigglety Pop! is about Jennie, a dog who has everything except experience, which she finds in the mouth of a lion and then goes on to become a stage star. It's full of delightful orchestral sonorities and at least one conventional aria, Jennie's "Now I have nothing." The opera is swift and amusing, with the juicy role of Jenny done to perfection by Cynthia Buchan. Where the Wild Things Are is a wonderful romp about Max, the naughty boy whose room turns into a sea over which he travels to the island where the wild things crown him king before he escapes home to Mom and his favorite soup. The orchestra here carries the load, with extended interludes that include an evocative nocturnal journey and a dazzling wild rumpus by Max and the wild things (the name's a natural for a rock group). Performances are definitive under the composer-conductor's leadership. Vivid sound, too. Packaging includes a cardboard pop-up foldout album instead of a jewelcase. --Dan Davis

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