LABELS: Orchid Classics
ALBUM TITLE: Alberga
WORKS: Roald Dahl’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs
PERFORMER: Danny DeVito, Joanna Lumley, Griff Rhys Jones (narration); Taliesin Orchestra/Peter Ash
CATALOGUE NO: ORC 100019
This recording was made in 1998 for Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity, but until now has not been released commercially. It’s basically a reading of Dahl’s own occasionally macabre re-telling (partly rhymed) of the Snow White story, intercut with original music by Jamaican-born composer Eleanor Alberga.
The four-minute orchestral prelude, depicting a magic forest at night, reveals Alberga’s sharp-edged, acute ear for instrumental timbre. The closest parallels are probably with Ravel’s one-act operas, but the idiom is janglier, with liberal usage of piano and percussion.
Danny DeVito’s narration is charming, endearingly warm and welcoming without condescending to its target audience of young listeners. Joanna Lumley and Griff Rhys Jones voice the character parts with brio.
Of Alberga’s musical interludes, the shimmer and glancing refractions of the ‘Mirror’s Dance’ are particularly impressive, as are the gurgling, snorting ‘Stepmother’s Bold Dance’, the eerie, lugubrious ‘Alone in the Wild Forest’ and the jolly, burbling ‘Celebration Dance’.
Peter Ash conducts a vigorous performance which is fully alive to the score’s angularity and bold colourings, though ensemble in the Taliesin Orchestra is here and there a little shaky. Still, I can imagine this CD being thoroughly relished by young families listening together, and it was certainly worth releasing.