The Wind in the Willows, narrated by Simon Callow

“Join us for the adventures of four timeless animal characters in this new family adaption, for narrator and orchestra, of Kenneth Grahame’s beloved classic tale, The Wind in the Willows. Follow our four friends – Ratty, Mole, wise old Mr Badger and the irrepressible Toad of Toad Hall – as they mess about in boats, get lost in the wild wood and battle to regain Toad Hall from the weasels. These adventures are brought to life by narrator Simon Callow, whose narration is animated by all the colours of the orchestra, and music composed by Richard Birchall for players from the Philharmonia Orchestra.” [Philharmonia Orchestra website]

Richard Birchall
The Wind in the Willows

Simon Callow (narrator)
Members of the Philharmonia Orchestra
Geoffrey Styles

Reviewed by: Amanda-Jane Doran

Reviewed: 17 June, 2018
Venue: Hall One, Kings Place, London

Wind in the Willows illustrationMole and RattyThe much-loved children’s classic Wind in the Willows still weaves its magic of life on the riverbank. Richard Birchall’s delightful entertainment is appropriately nostalgic in style with homage to Prokofiev’s Peter and the Wolf and musical hints of Stravinsky and Janáček and is evocatively scored to illustrate the watery realm, the Wild Wood and Mr Toad’s turbulent adventures.

Kings Place was packed with tiny people, accompanied by parents and grandparents. Their response was excited and rapt for a scene teeming with insect, animal and bird life, cleverly illustrated by the orchestra, and Simon Callow perfectly judged all that he did. ‘The Wild Wood’ is particularly impressive with a swirling, menacing Waltz which recurs during the battle for Toad Hall. Mr Toad’s raucous exploits behind the wheel are highlighted by the horns, and the ensuing drama is conveyed in thrilling voice by Callow. The only reservation is that the conclusion is too sudden. For future performances, a reprise of the characters’ themes would make the piece even more irresistible.

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