For this series of Court Studies I have extracted six solo numbers for members of the Court of Naples from
my and Meredith Oakes’s opera The Tempest and transcribed them freely for four instruments (violin,
clarinet, cello and piano). The first three form a sequence in the opera: Antonio: ‘Sir, I saw him in the water/Striking bravely for the land’; Sebastian: ‘Milan, your vanity, your self-promotion/Have brought us to this godforsaken shore’; and the King of Naples: ‘Oh Prince of Naples and Milan/What fish has made its meal on you?’. Ariel’s ventriloquistic interjections are omitted here, so the argument between Antonio and
Sebastian is purely human and musical in origin.
The next two numbers are presented out of sequence: Antonio: ‘You’ll forgive at no cost/You’ve won I’ve
lost’ is this last of the court arias, from near the end of the opera; whereas Gonzalo: ‘Sir, be cheerful/This is remarkable/Please don’t weep/Your Majesty’ is the first, sung when they’ve only just come onto the shore.
The final number – The King of Naples: ‘The sea mocks/Our search on land/He’s lost/Whom we strain to
find/Vain/He’s gone’) – was composed, coincidentally, in a room on the front at Aldeburgh.
© Thomas Adès
'What great music it is! No tricks here, and no gimmicks, just well-conceived and well-realised musical ideas, expertly paced and, as ever with Adès, expertly voiced among the four instruments.'
Seen and Heard (Gavin Dixon), 7 November 2013
'It’s a remarkable transformation this music has undergone, from its grand operatic origins to this miniature form, but it is totally comfortable in this arrangement – brilliantly colourful, in fact, with these instruments.'
Bachtrack (Paul Kilbey), 7 November 2013