There is an honored tradition of taking source music of one sort or another and using it for a ballet. Think of 'Les Sylphides' with music by Chopin orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov, or Charles Mackerras's arrangement of music from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas for the ballet 'Pineapple Poll'. And the list goes on. Well, here's another one that is particularly well done. Choreographer and artistic director of the English National Ballet Derek Deane had the idea of making a ballet of 'Alice in Wonderland' using the music of Tchaikovsky, than whom there is arguably no better ballet composer. Carl Davis had the idea, then, to arrange some of the scads of virtually unknown music by Tchaikovsky, using primarily numbers from his 'Album for the Young', with orchestrations done by David Matthews. Also used is music from various chamber works, operas, theater music and tone poems and for the 'Garden of Living Flowers' section the Waltz from Tchaikovsky's Fifth Symphony. The end result, premiered in 1995, was a hit for the ENB and the production has been toured and performed by other ballet companies.
There are thirty-five sections in the ballet and scenes include the Overture, the White Rabbit, The Fall (down the rabbit hole), the scene where Alice shrinks, the Pool of Tears, the Caucus Race, the Caterpillar (with the hookah), the Garden of Living Flowers, the Duchess's House, the Cheshire Cat, the Tea Party, the Croquet Match, the Lobster Quadrille and the Finale (among many others). Much of the music is utterly unfamiliar but utterly Tchaikovsky. A constant delight of tunefulness and appropriateness to the scene it accompanies.
Carl Davis writes a very helpful synopsis complete with quotations from 'Alice' as well as enumerating the specific musical sources for the various scenes. I only wish I could see the ballet now.
I gave the CD four stars rather than five because the performance by the City of Prague Symphony, conducted by Carl Davis, although generally satisfactory, is not entirely world class.