Jonathan Peters

School Library Journal CD review: The Constellations - A Guide to the Orchestra

*****This spectacular production provides some information about Greek mythology, the constellations, and the orchestra. Performed expertly by the Vienna Symphonic Orchestra, the CD is divided into 14 movements, each one about a mythological character, several of whom were turned into constellations by the gods. Short introductions to each piece are expressively narrated by Michael Thomas Grumbine in a deep, mellow voice. He also provides some information about each mythological character and why he or she was turned into a constellation. The movements include "Perseus" (trumpets), "Pegasus" (violins), "Andromeda and Cetus" (flutes and double bass), "Hercules" (trombones and timpani), "Leo" (percussion), "Hydra" (viola, cello), "Lyra" (harp), "Lepus" (piccolo), "Orion and Scorpius" (French horn and oboe), "Delphinus" (clarinet), "Gemini" (glockenspiel and xylophone), "Ursa Major and Minor" (tuba, bassoon and contrabassoon), "Eridanus" (celesta), and "The Night Sky" (entire orchestra). Then all the movements are repeated without narration. The teacher's guide, which was not seen, can be accessed at teachersguides.webs.com. This is an excellent and unique introduction to Greek mythology and orchestral instruments.