The Mitten

The Mitten: Overview

From the album liner notes, Navona Records

Based on the Ukrainian folktale of the same name, THE MITTEN presents a world built using simple narration as its foundation and a complex composition creating the surrounding universe. Composer Mona Lyn Reese needs only to speak a few short sentences from a children’s tale in each track, and then lets the performers in the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra carry the details of the story deep into the imagination.

THE MITTEN is the tale of a child who loses a mitten in the woods. Various animals find the garment and seek refuge inside of it, each animal growing larger and more absurd than the last. When composing the piece, Reese assigned each animal a unique instrument; the clarinet scurries like a mouse, the violin soars like the owl, the tuba bumbles like the boar, and so on.

The composition starts off coy, curious with innocent trots of the clarinet as the boy loses his mitten and leaves the forest. When the animals continue to squeeze into the garment for shelter, the orchestral tips balance and crescendos into chaos. The weight of each instrument piles on top of one other inflating into an anxious, busy sound until the orchestra explodes into an exciting climax.

THE MITTEN contains three different versions with an English narration, Spanish narration, and an instrumental version. Though the compositions don’t change, listening to each one feels like a brand-new journey, ensuring that the Reese’s work can be just as timeless as the folktale.