• Lennox Berkeley
  • Windsor Variations (1969)

  • Chester Music Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the 1969 Windsor Festival

  • 1(pic)2022000str
  • 12 min

Programme Note

Windsor Variations was commissioned by the Windsor Festival and first performed at the 1969 Festival by the Menuhin Festival Orchestra, conducted by Yehudi Menuhin.

The work is scored for a chamber orchestra similar in size to those which existed in the eighteenth century: one flute, two oboes, two bassoons, 2 horns and strings. It opens with a vigorous theme, followed without a break by seven variations. The first begins with the violins quickly leaping around in a fugato which is soon taken up by the whole orchestra. This leads directly up to the second, a quiet rather distant Adagio, using the first six notes of the theme harmonically. Then comes what is possibly the most felicitous movement of all, with a lyrical waltz-like melody. Variation IV is a gently moving Andante, using both the opening and middle sections of the theme mainly melodically, whereas number V has all the notes in various juxtapositions, with a fast vicious attack that eventually yields to a more relaxed ending.

Variation VI is a march with jazzy harmonies and strong dotted rhythm and the final variation forms as it were an epilogue, reflecting on what has gone before and alluding briefly to the theme. The work lasts for about twelve minutes.

Michael Berkeley.