LeafPeter and the Wolf

Carnival of the Animals, Pt. II

1988 CBS MK44567
Narration by "Weird Al" Yankovic
Performed by Wendy Carlos and the LSI Philharmonic

LeafTrack List

Text by Al Yankovic
Music by Sergei Prokofiev, arranged
and adapted by Wendy Carlos

1. Introduction (3:58)
2. Peter and the Wolf (27:52)

Poems by Al Yankovic
Music by Wendy Carlos

3. Introduction (1:20)
4. Aardvark (1:47)
5. Hummingbirds (0:58)
6. Snails (2:03)
7. Alligator (1:15)
8. Amoeba (1:52)
9. Pigeons (1:56)
10. Shark (2:17)
11. Cockroaches (1:40)
12. Iguana (0:35)
13. Vulture (3:14)
14. Unicorn (1:25)
15. Poodle (2:51)
16. Finale (2:53)


LeafPeter and the Wolf - A Performance Parody

We all need a vacation now and then. Change of pace is healthy, particularly in the creative arts. So, when CBS called to invite me to get involved with Al Yankovic and them in a gentle leg pulling satire of Peter And The Wolf, I couldn't resist. For me the project was a chance for some musical fun and tomfoolery, working with a bright, witty collaborator, before getting back to more adventurous tuning and timbre projects.

Prokofiev's Peter And The Wolf is a much better work than it is usually given credit for. It also has a droll wit of its own. Little wonder so many of us remember it as one of our best early musical experiences. (Try it: ask several of your adult friends.)

Al and I have perhaps risked going a bit overboard in our "hip" performance of it here. Yet is the zest we experienced while doing it so far off the mark? In that spirit, I had fun inserting innumerable additions and sly parodies of well known themes and ideas, from Bach to the age of TV, all woven insidiously into the Prokofiev orchestration, as though they really belonged there. You may enjoy listening for them, to add to the musical glee we hope you experience upon hearing our Russian "Flying Circus".

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LeafCarnival of the Animals - Part Two

Less burlesque, and more whimsy, is our all-new continuation of the adventures begun in the Camille Saint-Saens/Ogden Nash Carnival.

Al and I thought a new work would make a better complement to our Peter parody than doing just another version of the classic original. Saint-Saens and Nash are a tough act to follow, to be sure, but we've done our best. I think Al outdid himself in these verses, most of which inspired my contribution, although we occasionally worked the other way around.

The music is scored for two pianos, like the original, but with a larger orchestra, including two harps and a celesta.

1) Introduction: What better way to begin than to suggest the Saint-Saens opening, while turning the theme upside down like our topsy-turvy new critters? But the inverted tune can get rather silly in a carnival way, exactly fitting the situation.

2) Aardvark: If you think about that slow, large insect eater, you might find this musical portrait about right. A solo tuba and horn chug out an insectly Flight Of The Bumblebee, just below the occasional flicks of a long tongue.

3) Hummingbirds: Saint-Saens gave us the large, graceful "Swan", in majestic andante played on a solo cello. Here we have that tune as a scherzo played on a solo piccolo, for her diminutive fleetwinged cousin.

4) Snails: This is slithery music, with sliding chromatics, fitting this creature's moving habits. The rhythm is a lugubrious two against the against four. And what could be more plodding that the William Tell Overture theme in slo-mo?

5) Alligator: A "hip" pair of wise-guy ideas, the second featuring a sharp toothed clatter of xylophone and piano, alternate back and forth, and pretty quickly. Better stay alert ...

6) Amoeba: For the tiny restrictive world of these single-celled creatures we hear a sad little theme, with microscopic darting motions, all played above a continually held octave-C heard in the cellos and the basses.

7) Pigeons: There they are, just ahead, cooing nervously. Suddenly they see us and fly over for a feeding, while several swoop around us. The bag of goodies is eaten, and the flock takes wing, leaving a final "calling card" on the nearby statue.

8) Shark: Put together equal parts from the Dies Irae of the Mass For The Dead, a "Jaws"-like motif, and "Fishes" from the Saint-Saens original, and we come up with this seductive watery portrait.

9) Cockroaches: We enter to a stealthy suspense theme, soon joined by the scurry of little feet, and this repeats. But the bugs hear us and scatter in a frenzy. Later that night it's the same story. Click on the light and they all scatter away, except for one we catch and step on ...

10) Iguana: As the poem says, we don't try too hard to find a musical image for this poor creature, and produce only this ascending series of false starts and endings.

11) Vulture: Big ominous bird yields a big ominous opening idea. It's followed by a wary, slightly "seedy" blues, with deviously chromatic accompaniment. To sustain out apprehension, bits if the opening idea sneak in from time to time.

12) Unicorn: What better way to depict this noble, elegant steed, than with a sophisticated stallionesque theme in the horns, over a majestic figure in the basses and the timpani? But the baroque second idea eventually pushes it all away, and the image dissolves, into nothingness, into myth ...

13) Poodle: It looks like this poor animal can't quite make up its mind. At first we hear sort of cute "doggie" variations, but then, isn't that a snail? Or a hummingbird? A vulture? Roach? Shark? Certainly that's the aardvark's tongue? Oh what, oh what is my little dog, huh?

14) Finale: Since the poodle took care of remembering some of the earlier critters, our finale this time can simply be a playful Rondo, with three parade themes, and a carnival coda, to bring the proceedings to a happy close. Come again!

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LeafThe LSI Philharmonic

For those of you who are curious about the latest advances in the "LSI Philharmonic", I played all the music on this recording directly into a fast Macintosh Plus/Levco Prodigy computer, running the latest B-versions of Mark of the Unicorn's powerful Performer software.

The Mac was fitted with both a Southworth Jambox 4+ and an Apple MIDI Interface, for 32 channels of an in and out, with direct SMPTE lockup to the recordings of narration and sound effects. Keyboards were a customized Synergy and a Kurzweil Midiboard.

Most sounds came from three of my favorite Mulogix Slave 32's, two Synergys, and the excellent Kurzweil K150. A few percussion sounds were from a Yamaha RX5, and some brass and strings were sweetened with the new Kurzweil HX and SX 1000 modules.

The essential expressions of volume and timbre were MIDI controlled through a customized JL Cooper Expression+ and a new Mix Mate unit, and all MIDI connected via an MSB+ box.

--Wendy Carlos

LeafA few words by Al Yankovic

I've been asked to write a few words about this new version of Peter And The Wolf - but what can I possibly say? To call it the greatest recording ever made since the beginning of time would be an understatement. This record heralds a bold new age, a quantum leap in the evolution of mankind ... and it also makes a swell Christmas gift.

There are many reasons that I decided to do this album. First of all, I knew it would be a great thrill for me to work with Wendy Carlos, having enjoyed her work since I was an embryo. Also, I thought that by now I would be fully prepared to tackle a Classical album, having seen "Amadeus" twice on cable TV. And, of course, I felt particularly close to this project, having been told by my spiritual advisor that I was Sergei Prokofiev's barber in a former life.

But what really clinched the deal for me was the incessant begging and groveling from the executives at CBS Masterworks. I just love that stuff. I hope you enjoy listening to this album as much as Wendy and I enjoyed getting paid for it. This is by far the best version of Peter And The Wolf that I've recorded so far this year, and I'm sure that you and your family will treasure it for days, perhaps even weeks to come.

--Al Yankovic

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