Mavis in Las Vegas

Sir Peter Maxwell Davies (1934)

Mavis in Las Vegas 1996

3333 - 4331 - timp - perc(5) - harp - cel - banjo - strings
Duration 
15
Genre 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

In spite of his early studies at Princeton and his frequent invocation of jazz, nothing in Davies's music so far has evoked the enormous - and enormously affectionate - relish he shows here for the great American experience at its most absurd. 'Mavis' is none other than the composer in the form he found himself computer-listed at a Las Vegas hotel while on tour there with the BBC Philharmonic. Here she has an identity all her own, her theme first heard in sentimentally dreamy fashion on solo violin: a connection ritornello, as it turns out, between adventures in a variation form which keeps mere pastiche at bay. The (over) bright lights of the desert Babylon tempt the composer to his most glittering colours, involving a large percussion section and some incandescent orchestral effects, but it is the sounds of big-band and big-country America which he is most intent on evoking, featuring snapshots of a garish gambling hall, a chapel on the 'Strip', the Liberace museum, city lights seen from the desert and - in an exuberant finale - Las Vegas's synthetic volcano in full eruption, much to Mavis's delight.

Performances 
13.3.97 RNCM, Manchester: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
25.10.01 Perth, Australia: Western Australia Symphony Orchestra/James MacMillan
19.1.02 Portland, OR, USA: Oregon Symphony Orchestra/Norman Leyden
31.1.02 Oslo Concert Hall, Norway: Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra/Tadaaki Otaka
15.4.02 Lille, France: Orchestre National de Lille/John Axelrod
24.6.03 St Magnus Festival, Orkney: BBC Philharmonic Orchestra/Rumon Gamba
30.4.05 Royal Festival Hall, London: Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
7.5.05 Las Vegas, USA: Las Vegas Philharmonic
10.6.06 User Hall, Edinburgh: Royal Scottish National Orchestra/James Lowe
139.06 Settembre Musica Festival, Turin, Italy: Orchestra Sinfonica RAI/Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
15.10.06 Cervantino Festival, Mexico: Philharmonia Orchestra/Sir Peter Maxwell Davies
6.3.11 Porto, Portugal: Orquestra Sinfonica do Porto Casa da Musica/Joseph Young
Selected performances only.
3
Flute
3rd alto flute
3
Oboe
3
Clarinet
1st & 2nd doubling clarinet in A, 3rd bass clarinet doubling tenor saxophone
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
in C
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
5
Percussion
glockenspiel, marimba, crotales, side drum, woodblocks, temple blocks, flexatone, slide whistle, bell tree, 3 suspended cymbals, small Chinese cymbal, tambourine, gueiro, bass drum, clashed cymbals
1
Harp
1
Piano
doubling celesta and electric keyboard
1
Other
banjo
(Esc)