recess radio program

Maurice Sendak's Pincus and the Pig
    by John Cech


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Thatís Maurice Sendak, who wrote the libretto and narrates this Klezmatic version of Sergei Prokofievís classical standard. Sendak has renamed it ďPincus and the Pig,Ē and the music is provided by the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra. Prokofievís original was meant to introduce young people to various instruments of the orchestra, but Sendakís revisioning of this piece adds a wild, new dimension to the story, by setting it in a Jewish sthetl that could have been right down the road from Peterís village in old Russia. Indeed, from the outset, Sendak stands Prokofievís story on its ear, with all the narrative chutzpa of a master storyteller, who, like old world grandfathers, can get away with almost every exclamatory flavor of embellishment. Hereís how Sendak introduces one of the characters, the anxious little bird:

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And throughout we find ourselves swept up in the traditional rhythms of chassidic dances, middle-eastern riffs, and Roumanian horas -- and in the sounds of Yiddish, in all itís emphatic, onomotpoetic energy. This is a dizzying and a delightful homage to a work thatís been desperately in need of some new ingredients. Sendak and the Shirim have added them, and they donít spare the joy or the relish. So enjoy, bubbela, and to the creators of this incredible pastichela -- Mazel Tov!

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Copyright 2004 © John Cech

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"Recess!" is a co-production of the University of Florida's Center for Children's Literature and Culture and WUFT-FM, "Classic 89."