recess radio program

Strike Up the Toy Band
    by John Cech


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There's something about the sound of xylophones, that usually makes me want to head for the hills unless it's Pappageno's' glockenspiel in The Magic Flute, or Carl Orff's kids playing their magical rhythms. But I must confess that a group of recordings have won me over the Classiks on Toys series from Robert LaFond's group in Canada that feature some surprising musical delights from an orchestra of real toy instruments that you can find in any well-stocked toy store pianos and other keyboards, horns, drums, recorders, and, yes, xylophones all played with great spirit and playful seriousness. For instance, how can you possibly resist this:

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That's the rollicking "Russian Dance" from Snoopy's Nutcracker and other Tchaikovsky Classiks on Toys.I should mention that the introducers of this music at the start of each CD, are Schroeder, Charlie Brown, and some of the other characters from the Peanuts comic strip.

Snoopy's Chirstmas has a bunch of standard holiday carols, including this elegant setting for "Jingle Bells":

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And the treats aren't limited to the classical repertoire. There's a country collection and a Beatles anthology with a version of Brubeck's "Take Five" that really hums:

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But my personal favorite is Snoopy's Classical with sections from Handel's "Water Music," a little Brahams, a touch of Vivaldi, a main course of Beethoven, and for the rest of the evening, how about -- a little Ravel:

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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."