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Wonderland
Maureen Lipman (narrator)
Matthew Trusler (violin)
Ashley Wass (piano)
Elise Smith (triangle)
rec. April 2016 at St. George’s, Bristol
ORCHID CLASSICS ORC100060 [61:07]

This is a new and exciting telling of the children’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, written by Lewis Carroll and first published in 1865. Wonderland was created by violinist Matthew Trusler and pianist Ashley Wass to benefit the Lenny Trusler Children’s Foundation, dedicated to helping sick babies and childen. The 12 chapters of the original book are each re-told, with a new text written by novelist Louis de Bernieres, and narrated by actress Maureen Lipman. Each narration is followed by a short musical interpretation created by one of today’s leading composers and performed by Matthew and Ashley. Thirteen composers donated their efforts to this project, and the results vary between interesting and marvelous.
 
All in the Golden Afternoon is an introductory poem, and the music by Sally Beamish begins and ends with Elise Smith ringing the triangle to set the stage for a sparkling, dreamy adventure. Roxanna Panufnik composed Down the Rabbit Hole, with tinkling pianos and overlaying lyrical violin passages. The Pool of Tears is a long, slow, sad piece written by Mark-Anthony Turnage, and conveys Alice’s sadness swimming through her tears. Stuart Mac Rae wrote the musical piece A Caucus Race, a jumpy, frantic duet describing an animal race going in circles. The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill was composed by Danish composer Poul Ruders. It is a quick, high-energy piece and is performed during breaks in the narration rather than after it. Noted composer Howard Blake composed the beautifully melodic Advice from a Caterpillar, which musically describes Alice’s encounter with a blue caterpillar smoking a hookah while sitting on a mushroom. Carl Davis wrote Pig and Pepper, a short, classically elegant waltz, beautifully performed by Matthew and Ashley.

Pianist-composer Stephen Hough wrote A Mad Tea Party, a lullaby describing a sleepy tea party followed by the violently awakening of the disturbed Dormouse. The Queen’s Croquet Ground is the longest piece on the album. It was composed by Richard Dubugnon, and reflects Alice’s meeting the Queen of Hearts and a chaotic game of croquet, with jagged changes in tempo and phrasing. The Mock Turtle Soup, composed by Ilya Gringolts, is a slow, bleak, bare-bones number performed during the narration that describes Alice’s meeting with the Mock Turtle, “who used to be real”. Colin Matthews composed The Lobster Quadrille which begins and ends as a formless musical exploration, a missed opportunity to compose a dance for a Mock Turtle and a Gryphon that doesn’t come around often. Who Stole the Tarts? was composed by Gwilym Simcock, and describes the drama of the trial of the Knave of Hearts, brilliantly performed and arranged between the two instrumentalists. Augusta Read Thomas composed Alice’s Evidence, which musically describes the chaotic action surrounding the trial and the climax, before Alice’s sister wakes her up for tea.

An interesting 16-page booklet is included with the disc, with information about the performers, composers, and the Lenny Trusler Children’s Foundation. The sound quality is excellent.

Bruce McCollum

Contents

All in the Golden Afternoon [2:12]
All in the Golden Afternoon- (Sally Beamish b. 1956) [3:46]
Down the Rabbit Hole [1:30]
Down the Rabbit Hole- (Roxanna Panufkin b. 1968) [1:54]
The Pool of Tears [0.45]
The Pool of Tears- (Mark-Anthony Turnage b. 1960) [4:10]
A Caucus Race [0.49]
A Caucus Race- (Stuart MacRae b. 1976) [2:17]
The Rabbit Sends in a Little Bill- (Poul Rouders b. 1949) [2:22]
Advice from a Caterpillar [2:21]
Advice from a Caterpillar- (Howard Blake b. 1938) [4:52]
Pig and Pepper [1:18]
Pig and Pepper- (Carl Davis b. 1936) [2:07]
A Mad Tea-Party [1:21]
A Mad Tea-Party- (Stephen Hough- b. 1961) [2:25]
The Queen’s Croquet Ground [1:25]
The Queen’s Croquet Ground- (Richard Dubugnon b. 1968) [8:55]
The Mock-Turtle Soup- (Ilya Gringolts b. 1982) [5:12]
The Lobster Quadrille [1:25]
The Lobster Quadrille- (Colin Matthews b. 1946) [1:45]
Who Stole the Tarts? [0.46]
Who Stole the Tarts?- (Gwilym Simcock b. 1981) [3:43]
Alice’s Evidence [1.11]
Alice’s Evidence- (Augusta Read Thomas b. 1964) [2:33]

 

 




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