First performed by Christopher George/University of Bristol Operatic Society Orchestra, cond. Jonathan Lyness, 6 November 1993, St George's Brandon Hill, Bristol
First performance of revised version Marcus Barcham-Stevens/Avon Sinfonia, cond. Owen Leech, 13 December 1998, Hope Centre, Hotwells, Bristol.
1st movement (opening - letter O)
2nd movement (letter S - end)
3rd movement (extract 1)
3rd movement (conclusion)
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This piece was commissioned in 1993 by the University of Bristol Operatic Society, and was written specially for the violinist Christopher George. Five years later, I decided to revise the work for a chamber orchestra, extending the last movement and orchestrating the piece more fully.
The piece, cast in three movements, opens with a series of seemingly unrelated fragments which will are to form the primary musical material of the piece. A huge orchestral climax launches into a furious allegro, contrasted by a more lilting, waltz-like second subject. A long development ensues, culminating in an unaccompanied violin cadenza and a coda recalling the opening of the allegro. The slow movement contrasts serene, still music on its outer limits framing two violin cadenzas with a highly charged section at the centre. The last movement's sinister, brooding opening soon gives way to more showy, sumptuous music, leading into a long development section in which fragments from earlier movements are obsessively repeated over a steadily intensifying whole-tone canon. This culminates in a climax and a gradual disintegration, which is superceded by a richly harmonised affirmative chorale. The piece ends with a dissolution of the chorale material and a return to the uncertainty which opened the work.