Commissioned by the University, City of Aberdeen, Scottish Arts Council and Cheltenham International Music Festival

  • Trumpet, Str4tet
  • 28 min

Programme Note

The Quintet was written in January 1999, and consists of one movement, in readily audible sections. It is based on one of the songs I was in the process of composing for the children of Sanday School, Orkney, and although the materials are in a state of constant transformation, it imparts its “local” flavour throughout.

Particularly the opening slow section bears its traces, though distributed around the string quartet by fleeting reference, rather than consistently, in any one line.

The trumpet enters by stealth, taking us through to an “allegro” of two-part form – in the first part, two contrasting subjects are presented and in the second they are reconciled, and made one.

A solo cello line leads into a “lento” of extreme melodic simplicity and great harmonic concentration – realising on a literal and surface level what was hitherto functional only deep within texture and process. A trumpet cadenza prefigures a short presto, which finally evaporates into a “lento molto” sentence, further distilling the work’s harmonic and motivic contours into their most basic crystals.

These last bars were the starting point of the composition process.