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Newman goes on, however, to commend Strauss's 'highly expressive music', nowhere more graphic than in the opening passage that sets the scene and gives John Bell Young, the accomplished pianist, a chance to show his paces [listen -- track 1, 0:00-1:08]. Nor of course can the born opera composer fail to devise motifs sufficiently telling and diverse to characterise the three young children as they set out on a life's journey that will so fatefully entwine them [listen -- track 1, 1:47-2:26]. Annie is loved by Philip, son of the mill, and the fisher-boy Enoch. It is Enoch who wins her, and his motif that dominates the work, as he plies his trade, decides on distant travel to improve his fortune, is wrecked on the return journey, comes home after more than a decade to find Annie now Philip's wife, rejects any idea of disturbing her new-found peace, and withers away in his native port. 'And where was Enoch?' Tennyson asks after ringing wedding bells for Philip and Annie; Strauss comments thus [listen -- track 3, 0:00-1:05]. Enoch as castaway inhabits an island that has not the musical or literary riches Caliban gives his home in Shakespeare's Tempest. But here Tennyson is on top form, and Strauss backs him more than adequately [listen -- track 6, 3:59-4:51].

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Copyright © 4 May 2003 Robert Anderson, London, UK


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