Part 1. Act II Scene 5: By my life, this is my lady's hand!
Part 2. Act II Scene 5: Why, thou hast put him in such a dream
Part 3. Act II Scene 3: Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch?
Part 4. Act I Scene 1: O, she that hath a heart of that fine frame
Part 5. Act IV Scene 2: Fool, there was never man so notoriously abus'd
Part 6. Act V Scene 1: I'll be reveng'd on the whole pack of you
Act II, Scene 5: By my life, this is my lady’s hand!
The overture opens with a bassoon solo which hovers deliciously between the burgeoning hopes of Olivia’s steward Malvolio’s love for her (into which he has been tricked by her maidservant, Maria), and Malvolio’s own ridiculous pedantry and love of embellishment, hinted at by the bassoon’s trills. The setting of Olivia’s garden encompasses the tiptoeing anticipation of Malvolio and his deceivers in a warm pastoral F major.
Act II, Scene 5: Why, thou hast put him in such a dream, that when the image of it leaves him he must run mad.
As Maria’s scheme works on Malvolio’s weaknesses, the triumphant delight of Olivia’s uncle, Sir Toby Belch, takes over with full orchestra in bright A major. The passage comes to a climax with a reference to Sir Toby’s drunken nocturnal singing which has set him at odds with Malvolio, who tries vainly to keep an ordered household.
Act II, Scene 3: Shall we rouse the night-owl in a catch …?
It is not at all surprising that Mackenzie obviously sides with Sir Toby. A musician who has not sung drunkenly at midnight is not worthy of the profession, and Mackenzie was a thorough professional. When a burglar stole a dozen bottles of whisky from the cellar of Elgar (who had recently been awarded the Order of Merit), Mackenzie was heard to utter in his strongest Scotch accent, ‘Oh, we all knew he was a Hoarder of Merit’.
Act I, Scene 1: O, she that hath a heart of that fine frame,
To pay this debt of love but to a brother,
How will she love, when the rich, golden shaft
Hath kill’d the flock of all affections else
That live in her.
The theme which follows for Count Orsino’s love for Olivia restores the pastoral F major. It is but a modification of Malvolio’s theme, for Orsino is equally deluded. It is one of the constant delights in Mackenzie’s dramatic music that these parallels are expressed with such subtle distinction. The world of fun asserts itself again, leading to the imprisonment of the unfortunate Malvolio who is accused of insanity.
Act IV, Scene 2: Fool, there was never man so notoriously abus’d: I am as well in my wits, fool, as thou art!
A crabbit fugue attempts to assert Malvolio’s sanity by the introduction of order; but Mackenzie was no lover of these old academic devices and manages with superb skill to make a fugue subject that was old-fashioned in Mozart’s day alternately tiptoe and caper with suppressed laughter. The development section which follows is an outstanding example of Mackenzie’s insight and subtlety. The fugue subject, representing the world of lost domestic order which Malvolio strives to maintain, is combined with the theme of his and Orsino’s deluded love for Olivia. The whole topsy-turvy disorder of the play, the misapprehensions, the disguises, the combat between folly and earnestness, is here amalgamated: and then, with a delighted burst of good humour, there is a quotation from Beethoven’s ‘Pastoral’ Symphony. Out of this melting pot Orsino’s love is allowed to emerge with something representing dignity, but the music of Sir Toby and its infectious assertion of uncomplicated sport and entertainment cannot be displaced. The brief reappearance of Malvolio’s theme for Act V Scene 1, asserting as he exits, ‘I’ll be reveng’d on the whole pack of you’, serves only to set off the joyous rush to the conclusion.
from notes by John Purser © 1995