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.
Commission: The Royal Ballet/The National Ballet of Canada
“Mr Talbot’s score is the trump card for Alice. It’s dazzling array of melodies and shimmering percussion, usefully atmospheric and dancey, yet sophisticated enough to feel like more than a mere support.” – The New York Times
“First credit has to go to Joby Talbot’s score. Driven by a huge percussion setion, with weird and wayward textures, vividly descriptive melodies and a shimmer of emotion, this is music that is not only sophisticated but also danceable.” – The Guardian
“Joby Talbot’s score uses a collage of genres — from Broadway to Tchaikovsky with a twist — with a thumping percussion giving it an exhilarating unhinged quality. When combined with Talbot’s slightly deranged score, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland feels like the first ever authentically 21st-century story ballet.” – Frances Perraudin, TIME
“Joby Talbot’s superb score [is] arguably the best new ballet music I have heard in years.” – Giannandrea Poesio, The Spectator
“The real engine powering the show is Joby Talbot’s score, a storming piece of work spiced with exotic woodwind, James Bond brass, and an ironmongers’-worth of percussion, deployed with thrilling climactic control.” – Jenny Gilbert, The Independent on Sunday “An out-and-out success is Joby Talbot’s wonderful score, vivid, eclectic, lyrical, dramatic, full of colour and apt to characters and incident… Late in Act I, [is] the full-scale corps de ballet number: a lovely and populous Flower Waltz (with Talbot pulling out all the stops in his luscious music).” – David Dougill, The Sunday Times “For his industry, zeal and vigorously eclectic story-painting – with Prokofiev jokes and even Minkus jokes – [Talbot] is man of the match.” – Ismene Brown, The Arts Desk Source: jobytalbot.com
Composer: Joby Talbot
Joby Talbot’s compositional aesthetic threads through his classical and concert works; scores for film and television; and collaborations with major contemporary choreographers. Talbot studied composition privately with Brian Dennis and Brian Elias, prior to receiving tuition from Simon Bainbridge at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. For the concert platform, Talbot has composed widely for major orchestras, soloists and vocal groups.
For more information, please visit jobytalbot.com.
Conductor: Christopher Austin
Christopher Austin (born November 14th,1968) is a British conductor, and an arranger and orchestrator of film and television scores. Austin originally intended to become a composer. He studied at the University of Bristol with Adrian Beaumont and Raymond Warren (1987–90), and subsequently at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama with Robert Saxton and Simon Bainbridge. As a conductor he is most associated with contemporary music.
For more information, please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christopher_Austin.
Orchestra: Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Formed in 1946 by flamboyant maestro Sir Thomas Beecham, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) has enjoyed more than sixty-five years of success, giving first-class performances of a wide range of musical repertoire all over the world with artists of the highest calibre.
For more information, please visit www.rpo.co.uk.