Tchaikovsky: Alice in Wonderland (arr. C Davis)

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3.0 out of 5 star rating 3.0

COMPOSERS: Tchaikovsky
LABELS: Carl Davis Collection
WORKS: Alice in Wonderland (arr. C Davis)
PERFORMER: City of Prague SO/Carl Davis
CATALOGUE NO: CDC 001

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Commissioned by English National Ballet, Alice in Wonderland is Carl Davis’s arrangement of Tchaikovsky’s music for a ballet on Lewis Carroll’s beloved children’s novels.

Davis is not the first composer to take this approach, for, on the face of it, Stravinsky took the same approach in The Fairy’s Kiss, though this is inevitably a harsh comparison. Alice may make for an evening of harmless fun at the ballet, of which this would be a fine reminder, but without the visual element, Davis’s offering struggles for coherence.

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Tchaikovsky’s unbridled passions often seem out of kilter with the idiosyncratic charms of Carroll’s story. There are lovely touches, notably the sly portrayal of the Cheshire cat, but the inclusion of movements such as the Waltz from the Fifth Symphony, its fate theme an unwelcome intruder at the tea party, make it difficult to perceive this as a work in its own right. Christopher Dingle