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"The Last Rose of Summer" is through-composed for medium voice, with the germ of some devices that Britten later used more fully in his setting of this song, such as the ornaments written into the melody and the triplet accompaniment figure. The difficulty with this popular song is that the language is sentimental and the prolonged metaphor of a rose may not succeed in capturing the artistic imagination of a young singer.
After normal conversation and memories of old times and a photograph of them together, Claudel says "Thank you for remembering me." It is conversational in tone with short vocal phrases over a "playful" accompaniment figure, ending this tragic story on an incongruously light note.
The Variations depart almost immediately from the thematic texture, opting instead in variation I for a right-hand accompaniment figure comprised of chromatic/pentatonic filigree while the left hand plays melody and accompaniment, the texture being reminiscent of a "nocturne for the left hand."
This song is a vocal march that is propelled by a highly rhythmic accompaniment figure that supports the protagonist's purposeful march toward Lyonnesse.
Taken from various sources, thus not uniform, they could well have been identified by title and consistently supplied with tempo indication, scoring, and especially the details referred to in the text: the ligato marking in example 84, for instance, or the triplet marking for the accompaniment figure printed on page 280.
He suggests that the accompaniment figure is "one of giddy joy and (the vocal line) should be sung with love, as lightly as possible." (17)