Commissioned by Barbican, London and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra
When the Barbican asked me to write a concerto for Olly Coates and the Britten Sinfonia, I immediately started making plans. I wanted to write something formally traditional (fast-slow-fast) but with steadily developing content. The first movement is angular, the second supple, and the third motoric; there is constant progression and no looking back. The first movement begins with a texture quite explicitly stolen from the first bar of Dutilleux’s Métaboles, and proceeds from there. A series of “melting” textures in the strings, muted trumpet, percussion & piano antagonizes the soloist, who plays a quick perpetual motion toccata before the entire structure devolves into drones. The second movement begins with a very long drone over which the cello spins short lyrical phrases. Decorative chromaticism slowly becomes more pronounced, and the movement ends in a shimmer of bells and rude brass. The third movement is a long piece of fast process music: essentially a digital delay applied to two lines of counterpoint. The result is bright and insistent. The concerto ends enigmatically, with foghorn brass and a long, sustained drone from the cello.
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