Sunday, 19 May 2013

Alice in Musicland.

In order to preserve the mental sanity of those who wrote their Introduction to Literary Studies essay on the classical tale, I did not wholly entitle this review after Lewis Carroll’s novel. Nevertheless, it must be said: the classical music interpretation of Alice’s adventure that I and a group of friends heard at the Rudolfínum music hall some weeks back is an event I still am enthusiastic about.

Alice hit the notes in the second part of the evening; the first half of the evening was, honestly speaking, rather mediocre. Both of the musical pieces performed were composed by individuals studying at the Prague Conservatoire and Alice was no exception. Yet Alice, composed by Jan Ryant Dřízal had something the overture part of the programme did not: my attention. Truly - my mind drifted into a reverie during the overture’s sweet, yet soulless symphony of the ever-likable Debussy and for the majority of the (luckily only) first symphony of Te Deum I wondered why it was that the composer Jiří Kabát had to include sections that literally tore the eardrums in half… Alice is, without doubt, a whole other category.

My companions and I divided into two camps: some people studied the detailed story-line in our printed-out programme booklets while others only listened. I was of the first group – I found script descriptions and the sound creations of the orchestra two elements that are perfect when combined. On second thought, maybe the quality of my imagination is falling? Maybe without the aid of the programme booklet I would not have successfully pictured the ever-hurrying White Rabbit through the sounds of the saxophone and high-hat, recognised the Caterpillar behind the bass solo bombardon or connected the solo quarter-toned violin to the elegant, yet cunning Cheshire Cat… The composition as a whole was very image-provoking, for the music was originally designed for the dance stage: hence the sub-name, Alice in Wonderland (Ballet in Thirteen Scenes), so maybe my mind is not becoming completely analytical… just yet.

At the end of the performance, there was a standing-ovation from the audience. Having been to more than a few concerts at Rudolfínum, I was astounded how in a matter of seconds the music hall metamorphosized into a football stadium – especially when some individuals began shouting “Bravo!” It was obvious which team they were all whooping for: team Dřízal. However, I found myself amused by this, though still only letting my hands clap in praise of the composition.

To conclude: for many, Alice hit the right notes – especially for me. And ever since that night, I, like the Cheshire Cat, am slyly lurking around the circle of musicians, hoping to hear about a second opportunity to hear the tale.