I have always believed that no composer is a better role model for aspiring musicians than Handel and that no music makes the introduction to classics more smooth and enjoyable than his Water Music. Whether you are a complete novice to the classical world or a professional musician, a truck driver or a philosopher, Handel’s music will find its way to your heart. Personally I feel certain that you must not judge classical music until you have heard Handel’s Alla Hornpipe, the piece known to spread beauty, happiness and energy of youth whenever it is performed.

Bonnie and Stephen Simon, the creators of My Name Is Handel CD, would probably second that statement, as their latest addition to the “Stories in Music” series devoted to Handel’s Water Music is centered around that particular piece.

Featuring popular selections from Handel’s greatest works performed by London Philharmonic Orchestra under the baton of Maestro Simon, this CD offers a multi-level and highly entertaining insight of the composer’s life, reviving the golden hour of his career: the 1717 premiere of the Water Music.

Even though originally this CD was created for ages 7 and up, it is just perfect for family listening with no age limits in either direction. Thanks to an enchanting and very expressive narrative by Yadu, listeners will get carried away by the feature story of the Water Music creation and its glorious Thames performance. Moreover, they will even have a chance to sneak inside the royal barge and overhear a very special conversation between the great English composer and his most powerful fan, King George I.

Older audiences will find Maestro Simon’s brief follow-up discussion unimposing, yet most helpful in understanding the main music genres of Handel’s days. Not only does this discussion open a door into the world of Baroque music, but also it inspires the listeners to explore the subject further on as they turn to the colorful booklet that comes with the CD.

Boasting a variety of ink-and-watercolor illustrations, this elegant booklet takes us on a brief tour of Handel’s London, as we embrace its music and architecture, and even take a look at its peculiar “chair” carriages. However, it is not until the middle of the booklet that we discover its real treasure: a simplified score of the glorious Alla Hornpipe, turned into a hit sing-along, called My Name Is Handel. Consisting of only four simple lines, this catchy song is sure to win the heart of any listener, including the youngest one. In fact, my three-year-old demonstrated a truly Handelian persistence as he asked to listen to it over and over again, until he was ready to sing it. We had a real blast “playing theater” while singing and accompanying on the piano at the same time.

Needless to say, My Name Is Handel will make a perfect gift for every music lover, no matter what age they may be or what level of musical preparation they may have. However, most importantly, this CD clearly proves that classical family listening does not have to be boring. Apparently, with the right CD, it can be a lot of fun!