Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra
Petr Vronský, Conductor
The Mitten (Navona Records)
This charming adaptation of traditional Ukrainian folktale was composed in 1986 by Minnesota-based Mona Lyn Reese, who also sets up each of its seven descriptive movements with a short narration.
The Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, led by Petr Vronský, fleshes out the story’s imaginative animal characters à la Prokofiev’s iconic Peter and the Wolf including a mouse, owl, frog, rabbit, fox, wolf, boar and bear that take turns squeezing into a boy’s lost mitten for woolly shelter. Notably, the album released by Navona Records offers three different versions: English, Spanish, as well as a purely instrumental arrangement that creates a fascinating opportunity to hear the composer’s effective, and often complex orchestrations on their own merit.
Liner notes and even a downloadable colouring page add further to this album’s whimsical appeal. And despite the curious fact that it’s taken more than 30 years to record the popular work premiéred during Minnesota Orchestra’s Kinder Konzerts series — and reputedly now performed hundreds of times — Reese’s sensitive musical storytelling and knack for drawing listeners into the folkloric tale’s narrative web will appeal to both younger music lovers, as well as those proving the perennial adage that it’s never too late to have a happy childhood.
★★★★ out of five
— Holly Harris, Winnipeg Free Press
Amazon Customer Review
ByR. James Tobinon December 21, 2017
Now available as a download or as a CD from Navona Records, NV6132, this is a charming children’s story about a mouse a frog, an owl, a rabbit, a fox, a wolf and a bear. The tale concerns a wildly unrealistic attempt of all these animals to get warm in a lost child’s mitten. One surprise is that none of them gets eaten by another. The final outcome might be anticipated.
What really makes The Mitten successful is its narration by Mona Lyn Reese and the music by the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, conducted by Petr Vronsky. The cover illustration is by Marie Olofsdotter. Although I assume the wildly unrealistic story and the music are both by Reese, the composer is not explicitly credited. Both the story and, especially, the music are somewhat reminiscent of Prokofiev’s beloved Peter and the Wolf. The surprisingly original music mostly features the woodwinds, as well as violin. It is lively and a bit jazzy at times.
In addition to the English narration, there is a Spanish version and finally a purely instrumental performance.
Contemporary Classicast Review
An audio review given by the Contemporary Classicist.
A charming review from Germany by Sven Godenrath.