Having already won plaudits in 2000 for his evocative score to a TV adaptation of The Great Gatsby, Davis returned to the world of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s brilliant fable of hedonistic excess and tragic reality of 1920s America in a new original ballet score for Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre.
Choreographed by Jorden Morris, the new show opened in February, and provided Davis ample scope to conjure both the shimmering Jazz Age, and the destructive obsession which forces Gatsby’s world to unravel.
‘Davis created a collage of styles… linking dance tunes and Americana-style fanfares with a poignant motif for the title character. The “Gatsby tune” was hauntingly lovely — lonely but surprisingly optimistic. Waltzes and foxtrots sparkled with long, winding melodies. His bluesier, jazz-inflected music, much of which featured a solo trumpet or saxophone, effectively anchored the “period” aspect of the production.’
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Jeremy Reynolds), 13 February 2019
Listen to Carl Davis being interviewed about The Great Gatsby on WQED here
Chaplin on stage
After the great success of Davis and Daniel de Andrade’s Nijinksy in 2015, the Slovak National Theatre commissioned the pair once more, this time for a ballet based upon the life and work of Charlie Chaplin. Davis – whose silent film score work makes him the ideal composer for the project – conducted the premiere of Chaplin, The Tramp on 15 March.
‘The three giants of 20th-century art are, for me, Picasso, Stravinsky and Chaplin,’ says Davis. ‘Chaplin was a film-maker in complete control of his art: conceiving, scripting, acting, directing, producing, editing and, strikingly, creating his own musical scores. His stimulus, as it is with all clowns, was the creation of a character – amusing, moving, whose fate constantly intrigues us. Whereas Buster Keaton was a frozen-faced stoic and Harold Lloyd had his empty-framed glasses, Chaplin had his “little tramp”, the ups-and-downs (mostly downs) of whose existence shaped a story of human resilience.’