PANTOMIME for 13 winds ('Prague' version)
Originally written for the same combination of instruments as Mozart’s wonderful Bb Serenade, the “Prague” version of this work is so called because it was written for a CD of Woodwind Orchestra music recorded in Prague as part of a project put together by conductor Shea Lolin and composer Christopher Hussey.
The four horns are replaced by a quartet of saxophones, the two basset horns by clarinet and bass clarinet, and the double bass by the contra bassoon.
Much of the material of Pantomime is derived from the music I wrote for the Unicorn Children’s Theatre 1994/95 Christmas musical play Aladdin (book by Andy Rashleigh). This little divertimento, like the original show, attempts to invoke the shadowy and half-forgotten world of smoky Music Halls, Vaudeville, Burlesque and their later, often televisual, incarnations. It was written as a present for the wonderful Haffner Ensemble.
...reflects the morning bustle of a mythical Far-Eastern market place. The opening music is a corruption of some yet-to-be-heard love music and in the play is associated with the evil (sort-of) Abenazar.
2 Cavatina and Polka
The Cavatina is sung by Aladdin on finding himself stuck, alone, in a cave - this being the moment just before he discovers the lamp. The Polka is used by Abenazer as a hypnotic device.
3 Dream Calypso and Farewell
The Dream Calypso also has hypnotic connotations as ‘The Court’ (more of which later) arise from mesmeric slumber, recounting their dreams. Farewell is a transcription of a love duet between Aladdin and the Princess as he, now arrogant and corrupted by ‘genie-of-the-lamp’ power, rejects her.
4 Grand March (of the Chief Executive)
This is the music that accompanies the first arrival of the Emperor and his court. As the Executive and Administrative body of our imagined nation, they necessarily need portentous and important music to enter by and this is provided by Mahler, although in the wrong key and on the wrong beat of the bar. Hereafter, the Administration can only be trusted to organise melodies of no more than four notes at a time, and this they usually mess-up by arriving in inappropriate keys and providing equal opportunities for the wrong harmonies. A patina of normality is reasserted by the lovers’ (canonic) duet. The section ends with a climactic restatement of the opening ‘Abenazar’ music and leads without a break to:
5 Waltz Finale (‘Depravity’)
Abenazar, the embodiment of all evil, also doubles as a music-hall turn, and in this version, in waltz-time as well.
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