Essentially the PSB:s have teamed up with the Wroclaw Score Orchestra, in collaboration with the choreographer Javier de Frutos and Sadler's Wells, a pioneering dance theatre in London to create their first full-length ballet. The story is based on the classic Hans Christian Anderson tale of the same name, and the shows will follow the release of the soundtrack for a limited run which started on March 17 at Sadlers Wells, then heading off further afield from there.
The soundtrack, split into three acts, essentially follows the story of a competition to win the hand in marriage of the Princess and half the Kingdom, set up by the King of a mythical locale. How to win? Simple, create the most incredible thing! I dare say the King waited a lot longer for his prize than Pet Shop Boys' fans will for theirs, as by track two “The Grind”, we already have the inimitable sounds of the Boys themselves – electronic throbbing bouncing along a stringed lead. This track already sets a direction for the rest of the soundtrack, and I'm happy to report that nothing sounds out of place. Even when Tennant's vocals come into play, it seems natural, and the way they leave - magical!
This is not an isolated case either, as time and again styles and instrumentation cross over to surprisingly good effect; nothing jarrs or appears forced, and even if you don't particularly want to watch, enough images will be painted in your head to distract you. Apart from “The Grind”, other stand-out moments include the whole of “The Clock” suite, “Physical Jerks”, the least ballet-sounding score you will probably have ever come across, ...well until you hear “Competition”, which then further exceeds what I just said by full-on rave electronics morphing into a jaunty ditty based around strings and piano. This morphing of traditional and artificial sounds is so skillfully adopted that a lot of the joy comes from listening to the two worlds co-existing rather than colliding.
Tennant is reported to have said “In the past we have written dance music so to write music for a ballet seems like a logical development.” Who am I to argue, it actually seems like the most logical next step the PSB:s could have taken.