The Instruments of the Orchestra is a set of seven full-length CDs, approximately eight hours playing time, plus a comprehensive booklet that includes the full spoken text and provides an incredible background of information concerning the orchestra. The CDs and supporting narration feature individual instruments in orchestral, chamber, folk, solo, operatic, cinematic, jazz, and avant-garde music from the Middle Ages to the present. In addition, Mr. Siepmann adds banjos, bagpipes, coconuts, typewriters, six-shooters, taxi horns, and migrating swans, just to ensure that the listener doesn't think there's a limit to what can be done in music.
Our family has thoroughly enjoyed our learning experience as we've spent hours listening to these CDs, not one time through, but several, to ensure that we haven't missed anything. These CDs are fun, entertaining, and the most informative treatment of instruments and the orchestra we've encountered. What really makes the CDs exceptional is that Mr. Siepmann provides musical examples for each point he makes in his narration, so you get to actually hear what he has described. In all, it seems that the CDs are about 70 percent music and 30 percent narration, a great combination to keep everyone's interest.
Our family recently completed a music appreciation study and thought it to be of good value for the $150 purchase price. After working through The Instruments of the Orchestra, at a purchase price of $33.99, and finding so much more breadth, depth, humor, and knowledge conveyed by Mr. Siepmann, we realized how little was offered by our earlier study.
This is definitely a valuable set for anyone desiring to further their knowledge of music, and would be very useful for teachers, parents, and those looking for a great gift for someone of almost any age. In our home, the listeners ranged in age from five to 81 and all gave this product a thumbs up.