- Aladdin, ballet
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Composing music for films has been central to Carl Davis' career, and his soundtracks for Napoleon, The Phantom of the Opera, and The French Lieutenant's Woman are just a few of his numerous fine achievements in this genre. But one would be mistaken to think that the prolific Davis only produces film music, for he has put his skills to good use in other genres, notably in the field of ballet. His music for the London Contemporary Dance Company's production of "Aladdin" (2000) is possibly his most ambitious dance work: this lavish score runs over two hours and overflows with the excitement and high passions that are characteristic of Davis' evocative style. As performed by the Malaysian Philharmonic Orchestra under the composer's direction, "Aladdin" comes off in a grand Romantic manner, with several allusions to the ballets of the past, particularly those by Tchaikovsky and Delibes; but it is also filled with the effective scene painting and sumptuous mood music that Davis has made his own. Of course, since this piece is unabashedly old fashioned in its tunefulness and conventional in its tonality, some may feel that Davis has merely indulged his talent for pastiche and produced a hollow imitation of a nineteenth century ballet; there are more than a few passages that can make one wince at the baldness of his references and the blandness of his harmonies. Yet this work will find a wide audience for its lush scenes and vibrant orchestration, and many will appreciate it for its ready accessibility, uncomplicated melodiousness, and great warmth. Naxos' reproduction is superb, and the orchestra sounds remarkably clear and lifelike.