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
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