Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Music For Children (Schulwerk)

Carl Orff & Gunild Keetman
(Trunk Records JBH048CD)

This is a collection of 3 LPs dating from 1958 of musical teaching methods devised by Carl (Carmina Burana) Orff and Gunild Keetman and here restaged in English by Margaret Murray who makes excellent use of the talent of the children of the Italia Conte School, The Children's Percussion Ensemble and Chorus of the Children's Opera.

What we get is a tangle of folk songs, nursery rhymes, speech exercises and percussion pieces all designed (in ways I'm too lazy to discuss here) to teach the kids the rudiments of music.  Whether they would work or not I have no clue but what I do know is that it's fantastic fun to hear.

Orff and Keetman
The rhythmic pieces are melodious tangles of glockenspiels, metallophones, drinking glasses, tambourines, cymbals and drums.  Other instruments, such as lute, recorders and double bass, make appearances throughout and the whole has the air of some sort of mediaeval mummers play as filtered through the stones of Avebury or via an incursion of 'Time' in an episode of Sapphire & Steel.

Margaret Murray
It is frankly glorious stuff, partly ecstatic and partly massively creepy - a group of children chanting the name 'Deadly Nightshade' had me giggling and reaching for the rewind to hear it again and again.  Only for it to then be eclipsed by the simultaneous chants of 'Mad as a Hatter' and 'Let the piper call the tune' (tracks 17 and 18 respectively in the playlist below).

It's magnificently odd, deliciously creepy and beyond all that it's fantastic fun and I don't think I'll hear a better album this year.

The album is available to download from Trunk Records (for a massive 50p) as is volume 2.  They had reissued it on LP and CD too but they seem to be sold out from the label.

or alternatively you can listen to the whole thing here.


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