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Prospero's Isle (Symphonic Poem)

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Large Orchestra: 3( III=picc).3(III=ca).3(III= bcl).3 (III = cbsn) - 4331 - timp - celesta - perc(2): bd, cym, t-t, glsp - harp - strings

Duration (approx)   17 minutes
Composed   2006, revised 2007
Publisher   Music Haven

St Petersburg Festival of British Music

First performance   15th November 2007
Venue   Beloselsky-Belozersky Palace, St Petersburg, Russia
Orchestra / Ensemble   State Academic Orchestra of St Petersburg
Conductor   Matthew Taylor
Notes   See also details of the original arrangement for cello and piano.

Single movement


Caroline Gill, The Strad

Prospero's Isle was proof, when placed in the context of a more mainstream programme, that there is still space for the unique voice in contemporary music. There was nothing self-consciously clever-clever about Brown's writing: his four-part, single movement piece had a grand, elegiac quality that was perfectly suited to its Shakespearean theme.

Paul Driver, The Sunday Times

...lyrically suave...

Programme Notes

Many composers have fallen under the spell of Shakespeare's The Tempest and I am sure that this will long continue to be the case. The mysterious power of music is referred to throughout the play - indeed, music is a tangible representation of Prospero's spells and charms. However, it was not exclusively the magical aspects of the play that attracted me, for The Tempest is also a study of power and mastery over people, events, even the very elements of nature. It is tempting as a composer to see parallels with the organisation and control over the elusive substance of music.

Conceived as a work for cello and piano, I transformed Prospero's Isle into an orchestral tone poem for a performance in St Petersburg. Apart from the addition of a short fugato for the strings, the narrative line remains the same but I have enriched the harmonies and made full use of the colours and textures that the symphony orchestra affords. The process has not seemed to me to be a simple one of orchestration but rather, a melting and re-casting of the material to the extent that I regard it as a fresh and independent composition.

Prospero's Isle is a single movement work divided into four distinct sections whose tempi are slow - fast - slow - fast respectively. Thematic elements are shared and transformed throughout these sections. Perhaps the characters of Prospero, Miranda and Ariel are alluded to but this is rather in terms of their qualities than any narrative description. The work is dedicated to Gemma Rosefield who gave the premiere of the cello version.

Score Samples

Click a score sample below to view a larger version of the score...


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