Three Shakespeare Partsongs, for three voices (at any pitch), is a setting of portions of text from Twelfth Night and As You Like It. There are percussion parts for side drum/tabor in ‘Play on’ and guiro in ‘For the rain’. The vocal range is narrow, and the idiom embraces both gentle dissonance and the parallel 4ths and 5ths reminiscent of early music.
The set opens with ‘Play on’. The constant repetition is designed to convince that music really is the food of love. No. 2 takes the refrain, ‘For the rain it raineth every day’ and superimposes Feste’s song, shared equally amongst the three voices. The third song uses an unexpected cadence to cast doubt as to whether sweet lovers really do love the spring. The final chord of ‘Play on’ is subverted, albeit by only one note, at the end of each verse, and the sinister whispering belies the jolly heys and hos. But all’s well that ends well!
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