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Maurice Sendak’s Pincus and the Pig

Author John Cech
Air Date 11/24/2004
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Pincus and the Pig Transcript

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That’s Maurice Sendak, who wrote the libretto and narrates this Klezmatic version of Sergei Prokofiev’s classical standard. Sendak has renamed it Pincus and the Pig, and the music is provided by the Shirim Klezmer Orchestra. Prokofiev’s original was meant to introduce young people to various instruments of the orchestra, but Sendak’s 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 Peter’s village in old Russia. Indeed, from the outset, Sendak stands Prokofiev’s 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. Here’s 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 its emphatic, onomotpoetic energy. This is a dizzying and a delightful homage to a work that’s been desperately in need of some new ingredients. Sendak and the Shirim have added them, and they don’t spare the joy or the relish. So enjoy, bubbela, and to the creators of this incredible pastichela — Mazel Tov!

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Posted in Music