CD Review: Three Little Stories by Hans Christian Andersen (Navona Records, 2022)

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Three Little Stories by Hans Christian Andersen
Jan Järvlepp, composer, Rob Dean, storyteller; Janáček Philharmonic Orchestra, Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, Stanislav Vavřínek, conductor.
Navona Records, 2022

We know Andersen’s tales of The Little Mermaid and The Snow Queen. But do you also know The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Little Match Girl and The Emperor’s New Clothes? Navona Records offers us these three tales in a narration by Rob Dean and a musical setting by Jan Järvlepp.

It goes without saying that the album is aimed first and foremost at children who like to be scared. Whether it’s the soldier, the girl or the emperor, the story always ends badly. Jan Järvlepp succeeds in capturing their misadventures very well and what leads to their downfall. The lead that melts, the match that catches fire, the dress that attracts attention… By imitating this or that action in the process of happening, the music manages to tell the story in small pieces. The rest of the time, it perfectly camouflages the setting and remains in the background compared to the spoken voice of Rob Dean. This one is well suited to this kind of exercise. The tone is warm and deep. The only thing that one could reproach Rob Dean is to make too much in the register of the beauty and not enough in that of the action. However, it is this one that counts. When it is necessary, for example, to imitate voices hostile to the main character, it is the ugliness which must prevail!

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The album also includes two instrumental works by Jan Järvlepp, Follow the Leader and Suite for Strings, written in a style just as pictorial as the first pieces with orchestra.

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About Author

Justin Bernard est détenteur d’un doctorat en musique de l’Université de Montréal. Ses recherches portent sur la médiation musicale, notamment par le biais des nouveaux outils numériques, ainsi que sur la relation entre opéra et cinéma. Membre de l’Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (OICRM), il a réalisé une série de capsules vidéo éducatives pour l’Orchestre symphonique de Montréal. Justin Bernard est également l’auteur de notes de programme pour le compte de la salle Bourgie du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Montréal et chargé de cours à l’Université de Sherbrooke. Par ailleurs, il anime une émission d’opéra et une chronique musicale à Radio VM (91,3 FM).

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