Divertimento before Shakespeare's The Merry Wives of Windsor

 

This Divertimento for wind quintet was written in November 1963 as introductory music to a production of "The Merry Wives of Windsor" at Bottisham Village College near Cambridge. It falls into five short movements, each of which is dedicated to one of the players involved in some of the work's early performances.

 

Praeludium is a light-hearted fughetta setting the mood of rivalry and bickering which is so prominent in the play.

 

Windsor Park - Early Evening is a gentle, reflective movement. All is quiet...in the distance a clock chimes...

 

Scherzo - The Merry Wives. Here are the wives themselves - scheming, chattering, and (in the more relaxed Trio section) showing the warmer side to their characters.

 

Windsor Park - Night features different combinations of instruments in quiet, lyrical writing. Shadowy figures move amongst the trees as the conspirators plot Falstaff's downfall.

 

The Garter - Act V Scene 6. The play is over, and all the participants relax in the convivial surroundings of The Garter. This is a completely extrovert Rondo, featuring Fenton and Anne's love music, and returning towards the end to the music of the Praeludium. A brief Coda brings these light-hearted proceedings to a boisterous close.

 

The first performance was given on November 14th 1963 at Bottisham Village College by William Tilden (flute), Christopher Brown (oboe), Alan Maries (clarinet), Keith Maries (horn) and Warwick Edwards (bassoon).

 

The first performance of the Divertimento to be given by the movements' dedicatees was at the Cambridge University Music Club on April 25th 1964.

 

Christopher Brown 2000