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The themes of unrequited love, a lonely death and subsequent burial (with all its symbols of cypress wood and yew) form the focus of Come away, death (Act 2, Scene 4), whose sense of tragedy is conveyed by the persistence of the dotted cortège rhythm and the supertonic seventh (II7b) which interjects powerfully at cadential points. It was orchestrated in March 1898.
The final song of Shakespeare’s play, The rain it raineth every day (Act 5, Scene 1), is a stoical scherzo, vocally emulating the style of an eighteenth-century popular tune (as one might find in Eccles, Dibdin or Arne). Stanford makes deft use of unexpected modulation across the four verses where the fluctuation of D minor and its relative F major, and the supertonic inflection of G minor, heard in verses one and two, are allowed to influence the tonally fluid verse three (which begins in F, modulates to G minor before concluding on the dominant of D) and verse four (which, after shifting to the major mode, modulates quizzically to its own relative, B minor).
from notes by Jeremy Dibble © 2000