Figures in the Garden (1991)

For Wind ensemble   17 minutes

Based on music from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro

Although Mozart’s comic masterpiece needs no introduction, musically or otherwise, I was attracted by the aptness of playing a serenade in the garden before performances of an opera whose last act is set in a garden, and which itself includes a number of serenades. I had the idea that with all the performances of The Marriage of Figaro that had taken place at Glyndebourne, sounds from the opera had in some way impregnated the garden: snatches of recitative, musical figures, instrumental colours. I didn’t want to overwork Mozart’s tunes – it would be disastrous if the audience were tired of them before the opera had even begun – but each movement of Figures in the Garden is developed from a musical idea in the opera. Here and there an alternative scenario emerges: Suzanna sings her aria in the rain (because it’s an English garden), and Figaro and Suzanna finally enjoy a moment of shared tranquillity that is denied them in the opera.

Commissioned by Glyndebourne to mark the Mozart Bicentenary with funds from the estate of the late R.F. Martin

First performance: 25th May 1991, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, Glyndebourne.