A delightful set of circumstances combined to produce the beloved masterpiece, Babar. The journey began in 1930 when Laurent and Mathieu, sons of French author and illustrator Jean de Brunhoff were told an enchanting bedtime story by their mother, Cécile. So moved were the young boys by the curious tale of the young elephant's adventures, that they asked their father to create illustrations. The resulting book initiated a series that was to be the crowning achievement of Jean de Brunhoff's short professional life, and that of his son Laurent, who added further volumes following his father's death in 1937.
The children have acknowledged that the story originated with Cécile de Brunhoff, who, feeling that her contribution was too small to be credited, requested that her name be removed from the publications. In a heart-warmingly similar situation ten years later, Poulenc was spending time with the granddaughter of one of his cousins. Noting that she became bored with the music he was playing, Poulenc put Brunhoff's Babar on the piano and began to improvise, to the great delight of the young girl. The musical ideas born that day were to simmer away at the back of Poulenc's mind until he completed the work in 1945. It was premiered on French radio the following year.
On Friday 6 November 2020, Nimbus will release a CD single (NI 1571, playing time 27'51") of Poulenc's setting of The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant. The English text is by Nelly Rieu, narration is by Miriam Margolyes and the piano part is performed by Simon Callaghan. The recording was made in August 2020 with strict social distancing.
Miriam Margolyes is a veteran of stage and screen. Winner of the BAFTA Best Supporting Actress award in 1993 for The Age of Innocence, Best Supporting Actress at the 1989 LA Critics Circle Awards for Little Dorrit and a Sony Radio Award for Best Actress in 1993 for Oliver Twist. Her film highlights include Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter films, Yentl, Little Shop of Horrors, Scorsese's The Age of Innocence and Cold Comfort Farm. On television Miriam has enjoyed recent success with her series Almost Australian, The Real Marigold Series, Doc Martin, Merlin, Life & Loves of a She Devil, Blackadder and Oliver Twist and will return to our screens this autumn with Call The Midwife. She is also a veteran of stage productions and her voice has been heard on many premium brand commercials and Audio books.
Simon Callaghan performs as a soloist and chamber musician both in the UK and internationally. His recent tours have taken him throughout Asia, Canada and Europe. He has performed at all of the UK's major concert halls including Wigmore Hall, Royal Festival Hall, Symphony Hall in Birmingham, Philharmonic Hall in Liverpool, St David's Hall in Cardiff amd the Bridgewater and Stoller Halls in Manchester. Simon puts great value on teaching and regularly gives masterclasses. He is also Director of Music at Conway Hall, London, Head of Piano at Ingenium Academy, Leicester and regularly records with Somm, Danacord, Resonus, CCM, Hyperion, Nimbus and Lyrita.
Posted 6 October 2020 by Jo Carpenter