Roald Dahl's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfsby Griff Rhys Jones
Jamaican/British composer Eleanor Alberga's "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" is based on Roald Dahl's idiosyncratic retelling of the fairy tale. It falls into the category of musical narrative for children initiated by Prokofiev in "Peter and the Wolf." Those are large shoes to fill, and although there have been countless attempts to create a piece as successful with children and adults as "Peter and the Wolf," no subsequent work has matched Prokofiev's. This Alberga/Dahl entry in the field combines the work of a first-rate author with a composer of considerable sophistication and imagination. The story is not first-rate Dahl; however, there is little of the wicked wit that characterizes his best work, and his rhyming couplets as often as not come across as silly and trite. Alberga's music has far more substance and interest than Dahl's text; it's at its best when creating atmospheric settings, as in "Prelude: Night in the Forest," and less successful when it resorts to mickey-mousing the text as underscoring. It's unclear exactly what the target audience is for the piece. The music is far more prominent than the text, and the piece is dominated by lovely orchestral interludes that are musically effective, but that leaves the narratives sounding like irrelevant interruptions. The score is lyrical but distinctly modernist/eclectic and not likely to have a strong immediate appeal for most children, although fans of fun new orchestral music may enjoy it, especially if they are pre-disposed to like Dahl's work. The piece receives bang-up performances by Peter Ash and the Taliesin Chamber Orchestra. Actors Danny DeVito, Joanna Lumley, and Griff Rhys Jones deliver delightfully hammy performances.
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- Orchid Classics
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