Cambridge Variations was commissioned by
Philip Biggs and Rchard Franklin with funds provided by All England Masters
Brass Band Championship Ltd for their 1992 contest.
The basis of the variations are the six
musical notes in the word “Cambridge”, (CABDGE), used mostly in reverse.
The work falls into five sections
(variations), which are all (to some extent) derived from the six-note row.
- The introductory first section contains
a chorale, which starts with the row. This is preceded by related figures in
the lower half of the band after the cornets have set up a chattering
ostinato. A full-band climax follows and a shortened chorale leads to:
- Figures based on the row introduce a
robust tune in the baritones and the euphoniums. A bridge passage leads to a
second theme in the horns and baritones
- An interlude, which features each
section of the band in turn, starting with percussion. This leads to:
- A slow section, which starts with an
expressive cornet melody, derived from the six-note row.
- Euphoniums set up an ostinato figure
over a bass tune. This continues until the soprano establishes a more legato
tune. This dissolves into a bubbling cornet version of the ostinato, under
which a slow chordal passage unravels. The original chorale from the
introduction returns in triumph. A faster coda brings the work to a close.