Dedicated to Peter Maxwell Davies; Commissioned by Kim Williams for performance by Musica Viva Australia, Fires of London with funds provided by Australia Council Music Board; Most performed Contemporary Classical Composition 1999 APRA/AMC AWARDS
My instrumental sextet Laikan was commissioned by Kim Williams for Musica Viva (Australia). It was composed especially for Peter Maxwell Davies and The Fires of London who premiered it at the 1980 Festival of Perth. Laikan signalled a departure from the trance-like stillness of much of my music of the 1970s by its introduction of corporeal rhythm. (Laikan is an old Gothic word which suggests liveliness, rhythmic vitality.) It may thus be seen as a precursor of my Maninya series (1981-6).p
The work is structured very simply: five clearly defined sections are arranged to form a symmetrical ABCB’A’ plan. The A sections are quick, dance-like; the B sections serene and melodic. The first of the B sections has a sinuous, richly decorated clarinet melody against a drone-like string accompaniment; the second is a ruminative miniature adagio. The central (C) section is a recomposition of a colourful Madegascan folksong whose vocal antiphony has been distributed between woodwinds and strings, whilst a burbling accompaniment, originally for African thumb piano, has been adapted for marimba.
Laikan – Madagascan Song