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Arts on Sunday Interviews w...Embedded audio
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The starting point for the piece is a 6-note theme - C-D-G-A-E-F - attributed to the playwright William Shakespeare in a biography of his life by Anthony Burgess, simply called Shakespeare. The theme was allegedly written by Shakespeare for inclusion in his play Love's Labour's Lost. Burgess points out that this 6-note theme can be transposed at the tritone to produce a 12-note row. The theme appears as the second main idea in the fast section, and given a cheeky character on the oboe. Preceding this is a vigorous theme on strings that undergoes plenty of development during the course of the piece.
The overture begins with a slow introduction, brooding in character and featuring short cadenza-like solos for woodwinds. As the 'allegro' develops it assumes a mercurial character, with many sudden changes of colour, dynamics and rhythm. The climax of the overture features a blazing idea for three trumpets over stalking string lines.