The Pearl of Dubai Suite and The Ballad of Reading Gaol


Catalog No: QTZ2091
Composers: Grant Foster

Novaya Rossia Symphony Orchestra
Hermitage Symphony Orchestra
Belorussia Symphony Orchestra

The Pearl of Dubai Suite
The Ballad of Reading Gaol

CD version (not download) includes BONUS DVD

Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: Anastasia
Mira Yevtich: solo piano
Belarusian Philharmonic Orchestra
Conducted by Zaurbek Gugkaev

“The Ballad of Reading Gaol” for tenor and piano
Dedicated to Mira Yevtich and Andrew Goodwin
Andrew Goodwin: tenor
Mira Yevtich: piano

There are some who believe that Anastasia, the strong willed youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas and Tsarina Alexandra, left for Dubai in 1916 for the purpose of collecting pearls. She intended to return to St. Petersburg with the pearls so that Fabergé could design a special creation just for her. Aided by her cousin, Grand Duke Pavlovitch and her sister Marie, blackmailed into helping her, a plan was carefully worked out so that she could leave the palace unnoticed; her stand-in look-a-like, Regina taking her place whilst she was away.
A catastrophic event in Dubai exposes the plan and the family are informed that she is lost, presumed dead.
Regina’s true identity, although revealed, was never accepted as true by the revolutionary guard. As a result she was executed with the family.
The Suite is in four movements.
i The Winter Palace: 1916-1918
1916-1918 was a time of change and revolution in Russia. Within the walls of the Winter Palace life went on much the same, with a sense of occasion; grand balls and the beginnings and fulfilment of romance. It was a life that could never have been imagined by those on the outside. As unrest and tension exploded onto the streets and the revolution took hold; the palace was taken, the family removed.
ii Romance for ‘Cello and Orhestra: Nicholas and Alexandra
Tsar Nicholas longed for a simple life; spent with his wife Alexandra and their children: not to be burdened with matters of state. Many thought him too weak a personality to be Tsar; often appearing confused and turning to Alexandra for an opinion before making a decision. She was his strength; his great love and his soul mate.
iii Dubai
In 1916 Dubai was a fishing village noted for its pearls. There was a single souk along the river bank; stone buildings with wind towers and a fort. To Europeans it was exotic and colourful; far removed from the greyness of St. Petersburg of 1916. Shortly after Anastasia’s arrival in Dubai, a visit to an oasis was arranged for her. On route she was caught in an Al-Dabaran, a violent sand storm and presumed lost.
iv Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: Anastasia
A group of Bedouins come across her body. When they realise she is still alive they nurse her back to health and became her support and strength when she eventuallyhears of her family’s execution; when the realisation of her loss and fate drag her into a dark despair.
Over time she falls in love with a young Bedouin and they marry on her eighteenth birthday.
Today, some say that her three children and their families are still living in Dubai. The Pearl of Dubai Suite is dedicated to Svetlana Belika and Andrey Isaev in appreciation of their great love and support of the Arts and Medical Science.
In July, 2011 I decided to set the first seven verses of Oscar Wilde’s profound “Ballad of Reading Gaol” to music. The composition ends with the famous lines: “Yet each man kills the thing they love.”
Since this recording I have started composing a second, much longer version of the Ballad. Both versions are dedicated to Andrew Goodwin and Mira Yevtich.
He did not wear his scarlet coat,For blood and wine are red,And blood and wine were on his handsWhen they found him with the dead,The poor dead woman whom he loved,And murdered in her bed.
He walked amongst the Trial MenIn a suit of shabby grey;A cricket cap was on his head,And his step seemed light and gay;But I never saw a man who lookedSo wistfully at the day.
I never saw a man who looked With such a wistful eye Upon that little tent of blueWhich prisoners call the sky,And at every drifting cloud that wentWith sails of silver by.
I walked, with other souls in pain,Within another ring,And was wondering if the man had doneA great or little thing,When a voice behind me whispered low,“That fellows got to swing.”
Dear Christ! the very prison wallsSuddenly seemed to reel,And the sky above my head becameLike a casque of scorching steel;And, though I was a soul in pain,My pain I could not feel.
I only knew what hunted thoughtQuickened his step, and whyHe looked upon the garish dayWith such a wistful eye;The man had killed the thing he lovedAnd so he had to die.
Yet each man kills the thing he lovesBy each let this be heard,Some do it with a bitter look,Some with a flattering word,The coward does it with a kiss,The brave man with a sword![From “The Ballad of Reading Gaol” by Oscar Wilde]

    Grant Foster

  1. The Pearl of Dubai Suite (i) The Winter Palace: 1916-1918
  2. The Pearl of Dubai Suite (ii) Romance for Cello and Orchestra: Nicholas and Alexandra
  3. The Pearl of Dubai Suite (iii) Dubai
  4. The Pearl of Dubai Suite (iv) Fantasy for Piano and Orchestra: Anastasia
  5. The Ballad of Reading Gaol

Press Reviews

“Melody and harmony are paramount for me. Ive always stuck to that as my core belief in music. Its overwhelmingly important to move the listener. Audiences like to feel their emotions being expressed through music in a way they can relate to.” —Grant Foster, Gramophone, March 2008.

“This is amazing! Where has Grant Foster been all these years? The Celebration Overture simply blew me away! I really havent heard anything as striking as this for a long while.” —Andrew Lamb, Gramophone, March 2008.