Wonderland: in aid of Helen House Children’s Hospice

Our rating 
4.0 out of 5 star rating 4.0

COMPOSERS: Beamish,C Davis,C Matthews,Dubugnon,Gringolts & Read Thomas,H Blake,Hough,Macrae,R Panufnik,Ruders,Simcock,Turnage
LABELS: Orchid Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Wonderland
WORKS: Suite by Beamish, R Panufnik, Ruders, Turnage, MacRae, H Blake, Hough, C Davis, Dubugnon, C Matthews, Simcock, Gringolts & Read Thomas
PERFORMER: Maureen Lipman (narrator), Matthew Trusler (violin), Ashley Wass (piano), Elise Smith (triangle)
CATALOGUE NO: ORC 100060

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What an admirable project: all the distinguished contributors – 13 composers, three performers (plus guest trianglist), an artist and a famous author – gave their services to help fund a music therapy course at Helen House Children’s Hospice. And the important thing here is that it’s absolutely fascinating, too. The first musical streak is sometimes a bit opaque, muddy-melancholy being appropriate only at points, and ‘All in the Golden Afternoon’ was never the most child-friendly part of Carroll’s original concept; Louis de Bernières’s homage is even more for adults. But I like his mock-moralising commentary on the original book, and soon the musical selection opens up to rich variety.

The ones you’d probably extract if you wanted music to go with a reading of the original would be Carl Davis’s Dvorákian humoresque for ‘Pig and Pepper’, Stephen Hough’s parodies of ‘Tea for Two’ and the Brahms Lullaby for ‘A Mad Tea-Party’. Crazily illustrative, too, as punctuated by Maureen Lipman’s lively speech, are Poul Ruders’s illustration to ‘The Rabbit sends in a Little Bill’ and Ilya Gringolts’s woozy ‘Mock Turtle Soup’. Best for depth, with terrific opportunities for tireless pianist Ashley Wass as much as violinist of infinite variety Matthew Trusler, as well as fidelity to Carroll’s chameleonic essence is Gwilym Simcock’s denouement for ‘Who Stole the Tarts?’ But it’s not a competition – all win prizes, and the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. The two players’ introduction in the booklet is eloquently moving, too.

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David Nice