Baby Mozart, and Massanet, and Meyerbeer?
June 26, 2009 10:16 PM   Subscribe

A little something for my biggest fan... seeking ideas for classical songs that I can sing and record for my 19-month-old nephew.

I'd like to do a series of recordings to send to my sister in cd and mp3 format as gifts for my wee nephew, Ben. I'm thinking I will probably save folk songs and modern music for when he's a bit older and may be more interested in singing along. What are some classical vocal pieces in various styles and languages (suitable for lullabies or playtime music, nothing too bombastic) that will help give him an early familiarity with good music? I'm more or less a mezzo with a wide range, though the lower the better on the lullabies, as the deeper notes seem to be very soothing to him. On his last visit, he enjoyed Solveig's Song, L'amour est une vertu rare, and Ombra mai fù.
posted by notquitemaryann to Media & Arts (16 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Augh, it's late- Massenet.
posted by notquitemaryann at 10:17 PM on June 26, 2009

Well, it's not classical, but it's suitable for a lullaby, and timely too (and since your nephew's name is Ben)... Michael Jackson's Ben.
posted by amyms at 10:29 PM on June 26, 2009

Gabriel Fauré had quite a few beautiful songs... I can't think of a better selection than the Souzay/Ameling set from EMI.
posted by aquafortis at 12:00 AM on June 27, 2009

So, I'm having more luck thinking of things I liked as a kid, that weren't actually classical, but I'll pass them along anyway just in case...

Edelwiess - This was my absolute favorite to hear my mom sing.
(My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean was another great favorite, but I had a hard time finding a good video to show you.)
Simple Gifts - this Shaker traditional is pretty widely played by classical performers.
Try to Remember - From the Fantastiks
Lavender Blue
posted by Kimothy at 12:06 AM on June 27, 2009 [1 favorite]

Bach's Prelude in C (BWV 846) with Ave Maria. You could sing the part performed by the violin in that video.
posted by phrontist at 12:21 AM on June 27, 2009

What a lucky nephew!

Seconding Fauré, adding Joseph-Marie Canteloube's arrangement of a traditional brezairola (lullaby). Barbra Streisand's Classical album has some beautiful tracks that all of the children in our family loved from an early age.

Oh and Inch Worm!
posted by ceri richard at 12:43 AM on June 27, 2009

Song of India, from Rimsky-Korsakov's Sadko - a calm piece in the lower range.
In questi estreme istanti, from Rossini's Maometto II - a beautiful bel canto aria of three voices if you can grab two fellow vocalists to record with you.
Io ti lascio, oh cara, addio, from Mozart's Concert Aria K. 255 - transposed to contralto range
Suo Gân, a Welsh lullaby
posted by skenfrith at 1:13 AM on June 27, 2009

He Shall Feed His Flock (aria from the Messiah) is very soothing and lullaby-like.

Likewise Laudate Dominum, from Mozart's Vesperae Solemnes de Confessore.

posted by Bardolph at 2:45 AM on June 27, 2009

Seriously, I think Amazing Grace is one of the more beautiful tunes.
posted by alon at 4:11 AM on June 27, 2009

Seconding Suo Gân - absolutely gorgeous music.
I'm guessing that this is going to have to be solo stuff, or I'd suggest a couple of beautiful duets.

further to phrontist's remark, the specific version you are looking for is Gounod's setting of the prelude.

You could also look into Schubert's Lieder, I don't know much of the female-voice stuff but the male voice songs are fantastic.
posted by fearnothing at 4:55 AM on June 27, 2009

I don't think you can go far wrong with Panis Angelicus - oh and I've always been a fan of Rutter's arrangement of All Things Bright and Beautiful. And for around Christmas time, Warlock's The First Mercy is pretty soothing, too.
posted by teraspawn at 5:01 AM on June 27, 2009

O Can Ye Sew Cushions

How Lovely Is They Dwelling Place, Brahms' Requiem

Ave Verum Corpus, Mozart (though potentially much of the beauty lies in the chords, so maybe not as good for unaccompanied solo voice)
posted by palliser at 7:31 AM on June 27, 2009

Seconding Canteloube: I really like the lullaby "Per l'èfon" (Soun soun, minou minaúno), from the Chants d'Auvergne. Dawn Upshaw has a lovely version of it on the second volume of her recording of the songs, with Kent Nagano conducting. (I cannot for the life of me find a video/audio file of anyone performing it online.) In fact, there's probably lots of songs a child would enjoy in there that aren't lullabies. I'm very partial to "Là-haut, sur le rocher," not least of which because it's in standard French and so easier to understand than the dialect/Occitan ones. :) The most famous is the "Baïlèro" (here sung by Netania Devrath).

Perhaps I was a weird child, but I really loved Pergolesi's "Stabat Mater." My favorite was the "Quae Maerebat" movement, with the "Eia Mater" as a runner-up.

Unfortunately it's a duet, but I also absolutely *loved* Bach's "Wir eilen mit schwachen, doch emsigen Schritten", No. 2 from Cantata BWV 78 (Der du meine Seele). I'm probably remembering more about age 7/8, though, than 19 mos.

A bit morbid, but "When I Am Laid in Earth," by Purcell (from Dido and Aeneas) has a lovely soothing quality that can be lullaby-ish. I could also imagine a child really enjoying the bit about the snakes dropping from Alecto's head in "Music for a While" (performed a bit more vigorously than in that version). (I really liked jaunty things with lots of fun runs as a kid, obviously!)
posted by lysimache at 7:37 AM on June 27, 2009

Core Nome from Rigoletto, best done with muppets.
posted by foooooogasm at 9:47 AM on June 27, 2009

Check out the songs Joanie Bartels does.
She really understands what children respond to.
posted by Pennyblack at 11:37 AM on June 27, 2009

Response by poster: These are fantastic. Thank you all so much!
posted by notquitemaryann at 7:26 PM on July 1, 2009

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