William Shakespeare's The Tempest is an enchanted island tale that focuses on a fledgling romance, the tensions that exist between noble and servant classes, and the often murky distinctions that separate illusion and reality. Completed by Shakespeare in 1611, The Tempest was adapted to into a full-length ballet (of the same name) and performed for the first time on May 13, 1980, by the San Francisco Ballet. American composer Paul Chihara wrote the music for The Tempest ballet by interpreting themes that were originally scored by the 17th century English composer Henry Purcell. Chihara's composition slides in and out a multitude of styles and situations with graceful splendor. From ragtime songs played on clarinets and woodblocks to ominous pronouncements bristling with brass and strings, Chihara manages - despite the CD's thirty-one cuts - to keep his work cohesive and focussed. Performed by The Performing Arts Orchestra under the direction of Jean-Louis LeRoux, this particular rendition of Chihara's work is expertly played without feeling stiff or stilted (something that would have become apparent during the work's more swinging sections). Chihara, who was the San Francisco Ballet's Composer in Residence at the time of the ballet's debut, has truly created a musical score that deserves to be in the same artistic league as Shakespeare's The Tempest.
AllMusic Review by John Vallier
|The Tempest, ballet|