Commissioned by the ECCO with funds from the Arts Council and the Istanbul Festival

  • 0200/2000/str
  • 12 min

Programme Note

This work was commissioned by the European Community Chamber Orchestra with the aid of funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain and the 1991 Istanbul Festival. The first performance took place on 11 July 1991 in Istanbul.

The idea for this piece occurred several years before the opportunity of writing it arose - it was during a journey in New England, in autumn, when the leaf colours were especially beautiful. Both the harmonic 'colouring' and the descending string phrase heard after the brief introduction derive from this experience. The piece is thus a miniature tone-poem, scored for an orchestra of two oboes, two horns and strings. The wind instruments, except for a few solos, are treated as pairs throughout. There is a deliberately allusive element in this work, in that the opening oboe theme recalls the style of the great American nature-poets, such as Copland and Barber, while the chromatic sensibility of the harmonic idiom forms part of a similar European tradition exemplified by, in particular, Delius and Szymanowski.

© 1991 John McCabe


John McCabe: Red Leaves