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Classical Music Review

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Three Stories by Hans Christian Andersen and Other Pieces for Children


Composer: Jan Järvlepp
Conductor: Stanislav Vavřínek
Narrator: Rob Dean
Performed by: Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Label: Navona Records
Release Date: 01 April 2022

With narration by award-winning actor Rob Dean, Jan Järvlepp brings classic tales to life on Three Stories by Hans Christian Andersen. The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Little Match Girl, and The Emperor’s New Clothes, along with other works by Järvlepp, open a new world of imagination for the youth of today and conjoin the countless capabilities of oral and musical storytelling. Join the Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra and Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra on this thrilling ride through these childhood classics...

My initial slight disappointment that there are only three narrated Hans Christian Andersen stories on this collection was short lived as Jan Järvlepp's additional music is well worth listening to. The album contains 8 tracks (1 hr, 1 min, 33 sec). Of this, 3 tracks (43 min, 17 sec) are taken up with the three main tales, while the remaining 5 pieces (18 min, 16 sec) are original compositions by the composer.

The stories have been carefully chosen in order to best showcase Järvlepp's ability to compose music that conjures up very different emotional responses in the listener. We start with The Steadfast Tin Soldier (16 min, 59 sec), a tale of fate and not intervention that decides the story of a little one legged tin soldier. It's also a love story, of sorts, as the tin soldier falls for a pretty little dancer toy. It's never established if the tin soldier's feelings are reciprocated, as the two never actually speak. The tragic conclusion also speaks to the reality of life and fate.

The Little Match Girl (10 min, 34 sec) is a truly depressing tale of a poor young girl's dying last moments on earth. While the outcome, to the listener is sad, to the match girl her last night is filled with wonderful visions of the afterlife.

Finally, The Emperor’s New Clothes (15 min, 45 sec) allows Järvlepp to have a little more fun with his music interpretation. Two swindlers (who by the stories end seem to have gotten away with their deception) come to a vain emperor's town. The emperor like to always dress fashionably and the swindlers convince him that they can make the finest garment known to man. However, they warn, anyone who is not fit for their job, or is stupid, won't be able to see the garment. Of course, the swindlers are making nothing, but the emperor sends several of his most trusted advisors to check on the garments progress over time. All of whom are fearful that they will be sacked if they report back that they couldn't see anything. Come the day the emperor is due to wear his new clothes, in a parade around the town, it takes a small boy to bring everyone to their senses by pointing out that the emperor is naked.

The original pieces are just as intricate and engaging as the music composed for the audio tales. This is a beautifully crafted album that is overflowing with charm. An engaging and enjoyable collection of memorable pieces.


Darren Rea

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