Streams

Beautiful and Disturbing 'Peter and the Wolf' Album Covers

If you thought the Wolf was scary, wait till you see some of these covers

Friday, May 23, 2014 - 05:00 AM

David Bowie, Peter and the Wolf (RCA)

Is Prokofiev's Peter and the Wolf the most popular children's piece ever? This month marks the anniversary of its debut in Moscow to tepid reviews, but it seems every famous person has narrated the story —often coupled with high-octane musicians. Here is a compilation of some of the versions in our library. We think some of them are much scarier than the big, grey wolf in the story.

What is your favorite version? And your favorite album cover? Let us know in the comments.

 

(Sorry about the monocle and 'stache, cap'n!)

Editors:

Marcos Sueiro Bal

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Comments [24]

Nicolas Coppola from W. Babylon

I grew up with the Richard Hale/Arthur Fiedler was the version. The Captain Kangaroo had narration only one side, the recording flip-side played the entire score without narration.

May. 27 2014 10:27 AM
gg from Syosset

Leonard Bernstein narrator & conductor with the NY Philharmonic :) :)

May. 26 2014 05:56 PM
Robin from Brooklyn, NY

My first and favorite was Cyril Richard. I loved him! So wonderful and scary! What a beautiful voice he had!

May. 26 2014 05:17 PM
Ernie from Guadalajara, Mexico

As I already mentioned a personal preference for a version with a conductor-narrator family tie, noteworthy also on this "sub"-category the Previn-Farrow (presume those are the twins with them on the cover?) and the Barenboim-Du Pré versions...

May. 26 2014 04:30 PM
Ernie from Guadalajara, Mexico

My first version when I was a little kid and Dad made us heard Peter for the first and several times was Antal Dorati's with Sean Connery narrating. The rather "plain" cover of the recording with only both Dorati's and Connery's photographs on it is not that worthy in terms of originality or artistry at all but looking at it again brings back a lot of fond, warm memories! In terms of a nice, original design, I have always liked the cover of Karl Böhm's recording (as well as the recording itself!) which by the way I have on its original German narration by Karlheinz Böhm, the son of the conductor, who came to fame on his own as the Emperor Franz Josef on the 'Sissi' movies along with Romy Schneider...

May. 26 2014 03:35 PM
Richard Schneider

Itzhak Perlman's takes were interesting - by the time he made this recording he had lived in the US for so long that his Hebrew pronunciation had become Americanized. But in his English version there remains a trace of Hebrew phonetics. Richard Hale remains the touchstone for American theatrical English as his generation of actors would have been trained. Though not shown here, he gave and recorded the English language premiere in 1938 with the BSO under Koussevitzkty. Some narrators have told this story like they're speaking to toddlers in a nursery. Paul Hogan tells it like the adult on around a campfire to a group of 12 year-olds away from the polite constraints of home and school. Fritz Reiner never narrated this piece. In his performance, he conducts the NBC Symphony and the narrator is Lauritz Melchior. My candidates for not yet recorded "Peters" - Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Woody Allen.

May. 26 2014 03:19 PM
Jordan from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I vote for Sterling Holloway, too. His was a pure rendering, filled with love.

May. 26 2014 03:08 PM
Robert St.Onge from Cochiti Lake,NM

You saved the best for last: the enthralling Beatrice Lillie - also putting her inimitable stamp on Ogden Nash on the flip side! Now - when are we ever getting Meryl Streep to do her own version of both pieces???

May. 26 2014 12:57 PM
Barry Owen Furrer

Much of the artwork on these covers left me howling!

May. 26 2014 12:52 PM

Captain Kangaroo, hands down. He was a great narrator. His delivery was all about the story, not 'oh, look how cool I sound', but rather he let 'the story tell the tail'. But, couldn't you have chosen a better album than one that was spoiled by some kid drawing on a 'Chaplin Mustache' and, for some reason, a monocle? If you'd only let me know, I would have lent you my own copy, which I've had since I was a kid.

May. 26 2014 06:49 AM
Tim from Washington, DC

Crazy covers, and crazier list of narrators. Missing Sterling Holloway, as noted in another comment, and Leonard Bernstein, who both conducted and narrated his version. Maybe those covers weren't crazy enough?

May. 26 2014 06:13 AM
eqjones from Brooklyn NY

I've got no idea which orchestra played behind him, but no "Peter" compilation is complete without a mention of Sterling Holloway!

I haven't heard his recording of P & W in about 60 years, but his voice still rings in my head.

I trashed my mp3 of Fritz Reiner's narration. Took the wolf to the zoo, indeed!

May. 26 2014 04:22 AM
Ben from near Chicago

Very interesting to see the variety of artwork, pointing to what has been lost in these days of CD's and downloads. Also interesting is the variety of narrators. Who would have imagined David Bowie or Arthur Godfrey or Uncle Moose? And with the latter, I'm dying to hear which instruments of the Kazoo-O-Phonic Jug Band represent which characters in the story. And take special note that the album of the performance with Spanish narration was "Factory Sealed for Your Protection." Good times, all. Perhaps a future collecting project for those of us with too much time on our hands...

May. 25 2014 11:35 PM
Joe Vee from NJ

didn't see Jimmy Smith's . . .

<iframe src="https://embed.spotify.com/?uri=spotify:album:7DLAzRN21LLFxY2bOt9NIX" width="300" height="380" frameborder="0" allowtransparency="true"></iframe>

May. 25 2014 07:16 PM
Alonso Alegria from Lima Peru

I know it takes a lot of time and ingenuity to put together something like this. Congratulations and thank you
!

May. 25 2014 06:35 PM
Andrew Greene

Not an album, but I remember in the 1970s seeing a Boston Pops broadcast with Rich Little as the narrator.

May. 25 2014 05:46 PM

Oops, I missed the mallard duck on the Cyril Ritchard/Philadelphia Orchestra cover.

DD~~

May. 25 2014 04:11 PM
Bob from Huntington

I was always partial to the narration by Boris Karloff since his creepy voice matched Prokofiev's creepy music.

May. 25 2014 03:48 PM
Alan from NYC

I've always loved the Bea Lillie version. And you left out the Dame Edna on Naxos.

May. 25 2014 02:33 PM
Ellen

Basil Rathbone narrated the version that I listened to while growing up. It was one of my favorites.

May. 25 2014 01:25 PM
Gev Sweeney from The Jersey Shore

Lots of design- and color diarrhea in those images! Betcha someone saw the Carol Channing cover and thought, "Peter and the Cougar."

May. 25 2014 07:39 AM
Tim from Washington DC

What a great and crazy collection of covers!

May. 25 2014 07:09 AM

While several of the covers included ducks, I was partial to the English Chamber Orchestra cover and the LSO cover that had mallard ducks.

DuckDeadeye

May. 25 2014 01:06 AM
Karen from NJ

These are wonderful. I really wish you had the names of the illustrators though.

May. 23 2014 09:37 AM

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