ADVICE FROM A CATERPILLAR (excerpt from 'Wonderland') op.668 (March 2015)

Concert piece for violin and piano
Published by: Highbridge Music
Commissioned by: Matthew Trusler and Ashley Vass for a project promoted by the Lenny Trusler Charity Foundation
Instrumentation: violin and piano

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Duration: 4:52
Sheet Music Available
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Recordings Available
Wonderland CD released on Orchid Classics November 2016


The title is from 'Alice in Wonderland'. In March 2015 Howard Blake was asked to provide music for Chapter 5 of the Lewis Carroll classic for which 14 different composers had been asked to provided separate unrelated scores to make up a complete concert work for violin, piano and narrator to be performed by Matthew Trusler and Ashley Vass. The complete project was called 'Wonderland'. One composer had dropped out and Howard was approached at the last minute to fill the gap. The music is revised from his 'Ernest and Celestine' music for a slide show composed in 1983, opus 327. Writer Louis de Bernieres provided a commentary to be spoken between the different pieces comprising 'Wonderland' and these texts were spoken by actress Maureen Lipman.


22nd June 2015 Most intriguing of all was a poetic and musical meditation on Alice in Wonderland, which shed a different light on this much-loved children’s story, now celebrating its 150th anniversary. Devised by pianist Ashley Wass and violinist Matthew Trusler, it consisted of a set of 13 newly composed musical commentaries for violin and piano on the Alice story. They formed the musical interludes between readings of a new text specially written by the Captain Corelli’s Mandolin author Louis de Bernières. Rather than simply retelling the story, this functioned as a series of mordant commentaries on the major episodes such as the White Rabbit’s Fall, the Mock Turtle’s song, and so on, teasing out the philosophical implications behind Lewis Carroll’s extraordinary fantasies. Wonderland pianist Ashley Wass It was an intriguing idea, but it was far too arch and sophisticated for the (rather few) children in the audience to understand. And the grown-ups clearly found de Bernières disquisitions pretty taxing too. These were recited by Maureen Lipman, who gave them a nice understated sarcasm, but this must the only show Lipman’s ever done which failed to raise even a titter. Meanwhile on the screen above the performers the newly created images by Emily Carew Woodward struck a very different, pastel-shaded, fairy-tale tone. This was miles from de Bernières’ drily precise text, as were the first three pieces of music, which struck a dreamy, wafting note. Fortunately the obstreporous modernism of Poul Ruders’s piece to accompany Alice in the White Rabbit’s House offered a bracing jolt of energy. But then along came Howard Blake’s charmingly nostalgic piece to accompany the hookah-smoking Caterpillar, and it softened once again. Despite the expert advocacy of everyone on stage, the show was clearly a case of too many cooks spoiling the broth.,
29th March 2015
- 30th June 2015
Matthew Trusler violin and Ashley Vass piano, Guildford Cathedral(followed by a tour starting with Oxford on the 29th March)


Related Works

'ERNEST AND CELESTINE (for violin and piano)' op.327 (December 1983)
Score for a slide show

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