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Indy Lifestyle Online
When the composer Peter Maxwell Davies went to Las Vegas, he had an identity problem. A friend who tried to contact him at the Flamingo Hilton couldn't reach him. There was no one of that name, so the switchboard operator explained, staying there. Variations such as Maxwell, Peter or even "Sir" were of no avail, the hotel register showed no guest corresponding to his name.

Finally, the mystery was solved. It turned out that the computer had combined his first initial with his surname. He was registered as Mavis.

Mavis in Las Vegas! What a perfect muse to guide him around town! For like everyone else who visits Sin City he was overwhelmed by the experience. He wanted to express his feelings about it all in music. Now we have the result on CD with a video to go with it: Mavis in Las Vegas.

The scene opens with Sir Peter lying on his king-size bed in Caesars Palace, gazing up at the mirrored ceiling. His eyes close and - ta-ra- ta-ra-ra-ra! - Mavis in a full length crimson ball gown is seen descending the spiral staircase. Slowly, triumphantly, step by gold-sandalled step, she makes her entrance. And smilingly, enticingly, she sweeps the composer off, to see the sights and do the town.

This is a light, humorous, musical tour that covers the razzle-dazzle, the signs and wonders, the lights and the waterfalls and volcanos. It takes in the Graceland wedding chapel, an Elvis shrine with its lookalike minister (his nose twitches in a tell-tale sniff), the Liberace museum with the pianist's extravaganza of kitsch and, of course, the dice and the cards and the slots.

Mavis is a happy muse. They win, they lose, who cares? It's all laughter and colour and effortless fun - in short Las Vegas in its dreamiest mode. But all good things must come to an end. The composer wakes from his dream where he started ... the gorgeous Mavis, his indulgent muse, is only a sugar-sweet memory. Still, something of the fantasy - the music, as played by the BBC Philharmonic, conducted by the composer himself (on CD at pounds 9.99), remains.

Many writers and artists have tried to capture the essence of Las Vegas, but it can't be done. The whole place is just too much. Maxwell Davies with his musical guided tour gives as pleasing and seductive an account of it all as you could wish for. As one critic wrote: "a powerful and catchy piece of pseudo-Americana, slightly manic, like Gershwin on Prozac." Viva Mavis!

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