Lim Fantasy of Companionship for Piano and Orchestra
Tedd Joselson (piano); London Voices; London Symphony Orchestra/Arthur Fagen
Signum Classics SIGCD 670 32:36 mins
This rather baffling collaboration was sparked, unusually, by a conference paper on AI given by the surgeon Susan Lim. Lim’s presentation imagined a world of ‘artificially intelligent companions’ and culminated in a musical duet with a hologram named ALAN. Inspired by the apparent success of this idea, Lim commissioned a full musical from composers Joi Barua, Ron J Danziger and Matthieu Eymard (with Lim credited as co-lyricist), exploring the journey of ALAN from ‘inanimate’ to becoming a ‘plush inanimate baby lion with a soul’. ALAN: The Musical remains ‘in development’ however, so this disc instead comprises a Fantasy for solo piano, orchestra and voices which strings with material from the musical, newly arranged and orchestrated by Manu Martin.
It’s hard not to view The Lim Fantasy of Companionship as something of a vanity project. The score itself is a schmaltzy Disney-esque affair that is agreeable enough in sound (and is well-performed by the LSO) but also touches on some deeply uncomfortable sentiments in its movement titles, including a heavy-handed reference to ‘Tribal Bushman’. It’s hard to say quite who this disc is for, but perhaps ALAN: The Musical will one day rise to power and make sense of this otherwise curious release.