Review: Lullabies: A Songbook Companion - Baird, et a

Most lullaby CDs are a little bit painful for the parents to listen to. Cheesy instrumentation and American Idol-style over-emoting. Not to mention the same ten songs on each CD. There's only so many ways you can sing "All the Pretty Little Horses." (Or at least there are only so many ways I've heard.)

Thankfully the purpose of most lullaby CDs is such that we parents will not listen to them. But there are times, especially early on in a baby's life, when a little lullaby background music is nice for nursings or bottle-feedings.

So the collection from New York City's Metropolitan Museum of Art entitled Lullabies: A Songbook Companion came as a welcome relief from the other poor lullaby CDs I avidly bought before our first child's arrival. The album is a family affair -- parents Richard Kapp (piano) and Madeline Kapp (vocals) and daughters Julianne Baird (vocals) and Mela Tenenbaum (violin and viola). So you have classically-trained musicians playing real instruments and knowing when that over-emoting goes so far. (It's on here, but it's kept mostly in check.)

And when you have 35 tracks on the CD, clearly there will be a few tracks that will be new to you. The selection reaches across the globe ("Fais Dodo," "Suo Gan") and includes some classical instrumental tracks (such as Schumann's "Traumerei") that may very well be the most relaxing and sleep-inducing on the album.

The CD is available either on its own or accompanying a book with assorted child-related art from the Museum's collection and the sheet music. The book also gives the briefest of backgrounds on each song; such descriptions are omitted from the CD's liner notes. Both are available through the Museum itself or online retailers. If you're looking for a lullaby-related gift for parents-to-be, you need look no further than this CD. They may even be listening to it themselves long after their little one is sleeping through the night.