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Prospero's Books

Album Summary

>Nyman, Michael [Piano] : Prospero's Books, film score
Performers Ensemble Composer
Notes & Reviews:

Personnel: Michael Nyman (piano); Clare Connors, Alexander Balanescu, Jonathan Carney, Elisabeth Perry (violin); Kate Musker (viola); Justin Pearson , Tony Hinnigan (cello); Andy Findon (flute, piccolo, tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone); David Rix (clarinet, bass clarinet); David Roach, John Harle, Jamie Talbot (soprano saxophone, alto saxophone); Graham Ashton (trumpet); Nigel Barr, Steve Saunders (bass trombone); Marjorie Dunn, Richard Clews (horns); Lynda Houghton, Tim Amhurst, Paul Morgan (double bass).

Michael Nyman has written many fine soundtracks for Peter Greenaway films, but his music for the British director's cinematic version of Shakespeare's The Tempest (titled Prospero's Books) ranks as one of his best. A third of the program consists of elegiac vocal pieces, which feature Sarah Leonard's beautifully soaring, "boy soprano" voice (the inclusion of vocals was accidental, as Nyman textually mistook the play's locale to be island of voices instead of an "isle of noises" -- a fortuitous oversight considering the charm of these pieces). The remainder of the program consists of instrumentals, equally divided between sweeping string numbers and jauntily robotic, horn-driven pieces. Nyman enlists the talents of the Balanescu Quartet (who have also recorded Nyman's first three string quartets) and tenor saxophonist John Harle to form the core of his excellent 22-piece band. The group admirably deliver Nyman's neo-romantic, minimalist score with the necessary mix of passion and restraint. Highlights include the instrumentals "Caliban's Pit" and "Cornfield" and the magisterial vocal piece "Where the Bee Sucks." The CD also includes a non-soundtrack vocal number titled "The Masque," which features Leonard and Ute Lemper among other vocalists. An excellent recording of some of Nyman's best work. ~ Stephen Cook


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Works Details

>Nyman, Michael [Piano] : Prospero's Books, film score
  • Performers: Marie Angel (Soprano); Deborah Conway (Voice); Ute Lemper (Soprano); Sarah Leonard (Soprano); Michael Nyman (Piano)
  • Ensemble: Michael Nyman Band
  • Running Time: 1 min. 58 sec.
  • Period Time: Modern
  • Form: Film Score
  • Written: 1991