Joby Talbot: Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland; Fool’s Paradise / Christopher Austin

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From the opening seconds of the Prologue to Joby Talbot's score for the ballet Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, you are transported to a magical world of Mr. Talbot's creation, a fairy dust of notes and colors that are the world of Alice in Wonderland.

In 2008, Choreographer Christopher Wheeldon was presented with the first commission by the Royal Ballet of a feature-length stage work in nearly 20 years. His choice of Lewis Carroll's timeless and irrational tale, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland came about because of the potential the story had for movement, but he also realized the difficulty inherent in relating Carroll's narrative without the aid of words. The music had to create the space where the choreography could effectively and tellingly exist. Having worked successfully with English composer Joby Talbot on previous stage projects, he approached him to write the musical score.

What Talbot has done to create the aural setting for the world down the rabbit-hole is extraordinary. His whimsical score twists and turns as capriciously as the place in which Alice has found herself. The orchestra produces a plethora of odd and magical sounds, tumbling rhythms that seem to trip over one another and at times, walls of big beautiful sound. Listen to our sample track from the CD of the Flower Garden scene. It begins with a simple melody in 3/4 time that grows into a grand and beautiful waltz, injected with some bizarre touches and just a bit of slapstick humor here and there (literally - he employs a slapstick). Wonderful stuff!

The CD comes from Signum Classics, and the orchestra is the Royal Philharmonic (with some extras in the percussion section, I would speculate) conducted by Christopher Austin. As it should be, this is thrilling and delightful musical nonsense, fun for kids of all ages.

Composer Joby Talbot (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) speaks about his work.