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From the orderly clarity of Bach to the flamboyance of Haydn, the meticulous annotations of of Mozart and the furious scrawl of Beethoven, composers’ autographed scores have always held clues to their creative processes and their personality. So it’s rather fascinating to leaf through Faber Music’s new special edition of the full score of Thomas Adès’ The Tempest, which includes facsmilies of the composer’s sketches and notes for the opera.

This was the opera that, when it was premiered in 2004, shone the spotlight on Adès as the great hope of 21st century opera. Its atmospheric score combines a thorough grasp of the relationship between music and drama, and pushes the boundaries of the artform in terms of its contemporary tonal sound world and its demand for vocal virtuosity .

The Tempest has just been published by Faber Music as a beautiful, cased and sewn 510-page hardbound volume that includes the full score of the opera, illustrated with colour plates of the composer’s original manuscript and sketches. The publication gives insights into the creation of one of the most successful operas of our time by a composer who dislikes his discussing his work in the media. Indeed, the strikingly dynamic cover image (and end papers) of a luminous writhing octopus, by artist Claire Burbridge, conveys something of the restless, unfathomable mind of the opera’s creator, grappling with a musical language to inhabit Meredith Oakes’ sparse, formalised rhyming libretto.

Each of 250 copies of Tom Adès’ The Tempest will be signed and numbered by the composer, making this a limited- edition artefact which deserves the attention of serious collectors of books and manuscripts. The special edition will retail at £250.

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