Using Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream as inspiration, it has a lighter theme than the major work it immediately follows, the Requiem of 1992. Each movement is inspired by a short section of the play: the first derives in part from Puck's line "I'll put a girdle round the earth/ In forty minutes". Henze depicts Puck's global journey in pitch variation: the East is middle C, the South Pole is the lowest notes in the modern symphony orchestra's range, while the North Pole is naturally at the opposite end of the range. The second movement depicts Titania's attempted seduction of Bottom, whilst the Adagio final movement takes Puck's If we shadows have offended speech at the end of the play.
^Henze, Hans Werner. 1998. Bohemian Fifths: An Autobiography. Translated by Stewart Spencer. London: Faber & Faber. ISBN 0-571-17815-4 [Translation of Reiselieder mit böhmischen Quinten: Autobiographische Mitteilungen 1926–1995. Frankfurt: S. Fischer, 1996. ISBN 3-10-032605-9]