MICHAEL G. CUNNINGHAM (b.1937): The Real Alice, My Name is Pinocchio (Zagreb Festival Orchestra; Miran Vaupotić), Post Meridian (A Jazz Ballet)
Catalogue Number: 05V051
Label: Navona Records
Description: This is the multi-faceted veteran composer on the lighter side than his interesting 'arc' of string quartets (03S066), more in line with the attractive, diverting orchestral pieces we offered two years ago (10U060). The perennial favourites ‘Alice' and ‘Pinocchio' are given an unusual spin by exploring the imagination-world of Alice Pleasance Liddell in the one case, and presenting the title character’s own retrospective account of his adventures in the other. These clever scripts are narrated by child actors, with minimal musical accompaniment, with musical interludes which are light, tonal, and attractive. The narration is theatrically effective, but fair warning - some listeners may find it irritatingly twee, especially on repeated listening. Post Meridian (sic) is a 'jazz ballet' in seven movements, evoking a sweltering night in 1930s New York. Here, a saxophone 'narrates' what is essentially an enjoyable jazz suite, with people strolling on sidewalks and encountering one another in various contexts, including a slapstick police chase. The music is somewhere between West Side Story and cues from a 1970s TV show. Giving what is effectively a straight arrangement of Chopin's notoriously hard to hold together F minor Fantaisie for wind ensemble a new name may strike some as presumptuous, but the transcription is very accomplished and the result would fit nicely in a typical wind orchestra program, and will undoubtedly appeal to devotees of the genre. (Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra; Petr Vronsky), The Triumph of Chopin (Zagreb Festival Orchestra Wind Ensemble; Ivan Josip Skender).