Dances and Nocturnes, for piano quartet, is about 13 minutes long. As the
title suggests the piece moves between fast rhythmic music and slower
more reflective sections.
The piece opens with an almost folk-like unison line before the instruments
start to splinter apart eventually leaving the piano alone. The string trio
rejoins, juxtaposed against the piano before sharing it’s triplet figure and
moving into a new section marked gentle but energetic. A high, shared note
between violin and piano mark the beginning of a descent into a brief,
nocturnal interlude for solo piano marked fantastico. This music spreads
through the quartet, with a viola solo in the foreground leading into more
static, choral-like music. The tempo picks up again with a triplet moto
perpetuo figure in the piano eventually joined by pizzicato strings passing
into a new section marked stately. An intertwined, overlapping crescendo
call in the strings, each one building in intensity before dying away takes us
into the final section – nocturnal where short piano chorales gradually fade
away into high sustained notes in the strings.
Dances and Nocturnes was commissioned by Wye Valley Chamber Music
among the bleached stars and suns takes its title from a poem by Kevin Crossley-Holland. The quintet is divided into three groups; a trio of oboe, clarinet and bassoon, off-stage horn and solo bass flute.
The title Firewheel is borrowed from the painting of the same name by British artist Bryan Wynter (1915-1975). In recent years I’ve been fascinated by his brilliantly coloured late abstract paintings and their allusion to patterning found in the natural world. My piece is playful in character, conceived in layers and grows out of repetition, line and ostinati.
The Devil’s Box is a set of five miniatures. Movement two features the viola, movement three is for solo clarinet and in the fourth movement the piano takes on the role of soloist in a brief corteÌ€ge. The first movement is a monody and the last a moto perpetuo.
Caprichos takes its name from Goya’s Los Caprichos, a set of eighty aquatints which depict the bizarre, mischievous and often grotesque world of 18th century Spain. The music isn’t a literal depiction of Goya’s work, but takes it as a starting point for a set of musical portraits that explore the possibilities of clarinet, piano, violin and cello.
The image of Aquila swooping across the pages of Flamstead’s Atlas Coelestis gave me the idea for this trio. A fierce and powerful eagle is in mid flight but trapped between lines of longitude and latitude and destined to mechanically circle round and round the heavens, forever in the same orbit.
A Web of Shadows was commissioned by Tom Kerstens, who gave the first performance with the Castalian String Quartet at the Purcell Room on 4 June 2011. Like a lot of my music the piece is made up of a series of short musical ideas that sit side by side or are stitched together. The problem of balance between the solo guitar and string quartet was a concern whilst writing the piece and led to music that has a delicate, almost filigree, quality. The string quartet play with practise mutes throughout as I wanted to try and give the impression that they were performing behind a veil.