FULL FATHOM FIVE
FULL FATHOM FIVE, the fifth offering in Navona Records’ The Shakespeare Concerts Series, takes the story of The Tempest, from the shipwrecked crew and magical spirits to the imprisoned servants and their questions of identity, and presents a variety of works from the 18th to the 21st centuries that set texts and depict themes from Shakespeare’s play.
Regarding this collection, executive director and composer Joseph Summer says, “We are able to hear The Tempest from the very different perspective of six very different composers. As we do, we can hear their reflection on that sinking ship, on sojourners transformed from men to coral.” From the intense and dramatic imagery of Beethoven’s The Tempest to the angular arias of Stravinsky’s Three Songs from William Shakespeare to the sorrowful and swaying sounds of Ives’ A Sea Dirge, these works show the significant influence of The Tempest on composers of the past.
The contemporary works by Summer, from his collection of Shakespearean-themed music, Oxford Songs, explore themes about Ariel, the aerial spirit, as well as the self-conscious characters of Miranda and Caliban. Pieces by Summer, Tippett, Ives, and Stravinsky set text from Ariel’s famed “Full Fathom Five,” a lyrical and ironic song that acknowledges the sea-changes and turbulent themes present in The Tempest.
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