Saturday, March 7, 2009

A-leg-grow misterioso

I've made fun of WCRB's Kids' Classical Hour before, and I'll make fun of it again, but during this morning's special on "creepy, crawly, things," I learned something new. The peppy announcer was introducing Gottschalk's "Grand Tarantella for Piano and Orchestra," the connection to the theme being that Tarantella and tarantula are related words. Then, in the kind of clever commentary you can always count on from Kids' Classical Hour, he joked, "but, unlike a spider, the grand piano only has four legs!" So, I'm assuming the recording that was then played featured one of those classic square pianos:

It wouldn't surprise me to learn that the writers for this show had never seen an actual grand piano. Actually, this was one of the better theme shows I've heard, with interesting selections by unexpected composers, including Gottschalk and Amy Beach (a piano piece about fireflies). Daughter of MMmusing was excited by the latter, saying with some bewilderment, "I didn't know there were women composers." Still, it drives me crazy that whenever a piece ends on this show, the announcer never says anything about what's just been heard - not even a sentence or two to remind us who wrote the piece and what it was called. More than not, there's just a circus-like slide-whistle sound leading into commercial or some canned recording of kids giggling out "Hoorays."

And, while we're on the subject, we ended up listening to "Vivaldi's Ring of Mystery" on my iPod driving home from school with the kids yesterday. If anyone can explain the plot of that goofy, disjointed story to me, I'd appreciate it. It may just be that I'm distracted by some of the worst writing and acting imaginable. Even the fine actor Colm Feore, so good as Glenn Gould, sounds absurdly stiff as Vivaldi - and then there's Giovanni, the gondolier, who proves that, even on the radio, you can chew scenery. But, I'm probably making sense to no one at this point, so I'll leave it at that. (To be fair, Daughter of MMmusing does enjoy this story and she enjoys Kids' Classical Hour in general, but both could be so much better.)

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