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The Tempest Suite No 2, Op 109


By the mid-1920s Sibelius was reaching the climax of his compositional career and, although it was only to become apparent later, the period of his last major surviving works. In close succession, in 1923 and 1924, the Sixth and Seventh Symphonies emerged and the greatest of the symphonic poems Tapiola would appear in 1926. In 1925 Sibelius composed his score for Shakespeare’s The Tempest. This was a return for him: back in 1901 his close friend and patron Axel Carpelan had suggested that he look at the play as a source of inspiration. This commission turned out to be his largest and most ambitious theatre score. In his theatre music to date, Sibelius had shown great resource in working around the limited forces available. With this score he had the Royal Danish Theatre, a home of opera as well as drama, at his disposal and his music extends to around an hour with vocal soloists, choir, harmonium and large orchestra.

A great success in Copenhagen, the score was revived a year later in 1927 in Helsinki, when Sibelius added a different epilogue and also produced, for the concert hall, a Prelude and two Orchestral Suites. The first suite is for large orchestra and includes some of the larger, more dramatic numbers including a reprise of 'The Storm' which, in extended form, constitutes the Prelude. The Suite No 2 is for small orchestra and concentrates on some of the more intimate portraits and episodes. Both suites include some of the composer’s finest music for the theatre, indeed some of his most inspired ideas, worthy of standing alongside the last two symphonies and Tapiola as the culmination of his life’s work in these genres.

The suite opens with the 'Chorus of the winds' which accompanies Ariel’s narration of how he conjured the storm and brought all on board the shipwreck to the island. The 'Intermezzo' evokes Alonso’s grief at what he believes is the death of his son, Ferdinand. The 'Dance of the nymphs' comes from the Harvest Festival scene. There is a baroque grandeur to the portrait of Prospero and magical fragility to that of Miranda. The two songs were originally sung by Ariel—a soprano—‘Before you can say come and go’ and ‘Where the bee sucks’, but in the suite the second gives the melody to two clarinets. 'The naiads' is a response to Ariel’s song ‘Come unto these yellow sands’ and the suite ends with the 'Dance episode', a strange dance drawn from a larger portrait of Prospero’s treacherous brother Antonio.

from notes by Rob McEwan 2003


Wagner: Siegfried Idyll; Sibelius: The Tempest; Mozart: Symphony No 41
Studio Master: CKD540Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Sibelius: Pelleas and Melisande & other works
Studio Master: CKD220Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available


No 1: Chorus of the winds
Track 15 on CKD220 [3'17] Download only
Track 2 on CKD540 [3'17] Download only
No 2: Intermezzo
Track 16 on CKD220 [1'49] Download only
Track 3 on CKD540 [1'49] Download only
No 3: Dance of the nymphs
Track 17 on CKD220 [1'38] Download only
Track 4 on CKD540 [1'38] Download only
No 4: Prospero
Track 18 on CKD220 [1'41] Download only
Track 5 on CKD540 [1'41] Download only
No 5: Song 1
Track 19 on CKD220 [0'52] Download only
Track 6 on CKD540 [0'52] Download only
No 6: Song 2
Track 20 on CKD220 [0'58] Download only
Track 7 on CKD540 [0'58] Download only
No 7: Miranda
Track 21 on CKD220 [1'51] Download only
Track 8 on CKD540 [1'51] Download only
No 8: The naiads
Track 22 on CKD220 [1'20] Download only
Track 9 on CKD540 [1'20] Download only
No 9: Dance episode
Track 23 on CKD220 [2'12] Download only
Track 10 on CKD540 [2'12] Download only

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