The Classic Story in Music, 1904-1996
As Nicholas Klein, our charming young Peter Pan narrator puts it, “This is a story about pirates and mermaids… about learning to ‘jump on the wind’s back’ so one can fly… it’s about a trip to Neverland… it’s the story of Peter Pan.” An Awfully Big Adventure, the Best of Peter Pan, 1904-1996 captures the enchantment of the nearly one-hundred-year-old story. This is a first-ever collection of some of the most beloved melodies associated with the tale throughout the years. Brought to life by the same creative team who gave you the chart hit Heigh-Ho! Mozart, this recording features newly arranged songs and scores from the original 1904 production, the 1950 Jean Arthur/Leonard Bernstein play, the 1953 Disney animated film and the 1954 Mary Martin musical. The familiar melodies appear in imaginative new settings created by the remarkable Donald Fraser.
Acclaimed artists participating in this project include Carol Rosenberger, piano; Eugenia Zukerman, flute; Nai-Yuan Hu, violin; Voices of Ascension, conducted by Dennis Keene; the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra conducted by Grant Gershon; and of course, narrator Nicholas Klein. This award-winning roster retells the classic story in a fresh manner, taking the listener on a journey that begins via that special star, “second to the right and straight on till morning.”
Lynne Heffley, LA Times: The timeless, cross-generational appeal of James M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan,” with its poignant theme of lost childhood, has been proved in many incarnations, from the 1904 stage play and the 1950 Jean Arthur production to the most-performed 1954 Mary Martin version and the animated Disney film. Composer-conductor Donald Fraser, creator of the clever albums “Heigh-Ho! Mozart” and ‘Bibbidi Bobbidi Bach,’ has added to the Barrie reportoire with a gorgeous new recording, “An Awfully Big Adventure, the Best of Peter Pan, 1904-1996.” This ambitious work, three years in the making, is a distinctive, stand-alone classical treatment in which Fraser has created thematically connected orchestral and choral arrangements of original songs from past productions. Using a full palette of emotional colors, the nuanced music – performed by flutist Eugenia Zukerman, pianist Carol Rosenberger, violinist Nai-Yuan Hu, the Los Angeles Opera Orchestra, Voices of Ascension and others – and charming narration by British child actor Nicholas Klein draw the imagination deep into Barrie’s Neverland. Well-written liner notes by Fraser, Rosenberger and Al Lutz chronicle the action, the music and the musical history of each selection. The symphonic “I’m Flying” lilts and soars; a cocky “I Won’t Grow Up” gives way to the piercingly beautiful “When I Went Home” – the “lost song” cut from the 1954 production, in which Peter tells Wendy and her brothers how his own mother forgot him because he stayed away too long. Througout, the “voices” of Peter, Tinkerbell and Wendy are heard in the violin, flute and cello, respectively. In the hymn-like “Your Mother and Mine,” based on the Sammy Fain-Sammy Cahn Disney movie song, vocal harmonies are treaded by Wendy’s cello; in “The Arrival of Wendy,” from 1904, the gentle cello is heard again as the Lost Boys build Wendy’s house, constructing musical layers on top of a sturdy bass – the house’s foundation. Fraser’s own compositions – a dreamy “Mermaid’s Lagoon” and a soft piano solo, “Nocturne” – are seamlessly woven into the collection. The deeply moving finale, 1954’s “Distant Melody,” evokes the work’s interweaving theme.