Children's Music Reviews by John Wood

by John Wood

Rounder Records recently celebrated its 33rd anniversary and the company’s children’s music division adds to the party with two new fun releases.

Hey, Richard Perlmutter! How do you follow your multi-award-winning, brilliantly conceived, whimsical tribute to classical music called Beethoven’s Wig? By releasing an equally clever, entertaining and educational endeavor called Beethoven’s Wig 2, of course.

Sometimes channeling the wordplay of Alan Sherman with a Mel Brooks’ perspective, Perlmutter invigorates the music of Verdi, Brahms, Schubert, Chopin, Strauss and Dvorak among others, with lyrics that will stick with you until the cows come home (which I think is quite some time hence).

For instance, Schubert’s “Trout Quintet” transforms into a tall tale of Schubert catching a singing fish, who becomes his lifelong singing buddy. Sound fishy? Read on. “La Donna e Mobile” from Verdi’s Rigoletto becomes “Sing Verdi Very Loud”: When you’re an opera star/ With a large repertoire/ How do you please the crowd?/ Sing Verdi very loud."

And so it goes. Included in this handsome collection are instrumental performances of the 11 tunes, lyrics, trivia questions, and related follow-up activities. As I’m sure Schubert once said, “A fine catch indeed!”

Beethoven’s Wig 2 – More Sing Along Symphonies, Rounder Records, 2004; $12.98 CD;

Sandra Boynton is an internationally celebrated artist and author who has sold more than 250 million greeting cards and 16 million books. She recently received a Grammy Award nomination for the inspired and extremely enjoyable Philadelphia Chickens. Her new silly soirée, Rhinoceros Tap, includes 14 delicious tunes with lyrics by Boynton and nifty music written by partner Michael Ford and performed by Broadway vet Adam Bryant.

Did you know that green peas have feelings too? You will after listening to “O, Lonely Peas,” left on the plate by some youngster bemoaning: I can’t leave my place/ ’til the peas are all gone/ At the rate I am going/ I’ll be ninety-one. When two mice lovers sing “I Love You More Than Cheese,” you know you’re in for a treat. The liner notes include all the lyrics and Boynton’s wonderful illustrations.

Rhinoceros Tap and 14 Other Seriously Silly Songs, Rounder Records, 2004; $11.98 CD;
– John Wood
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From United Parenting Publications, June 2004