This work marks the composer’s return to small-scale chamber music after a series of larger works. The title is taken from TS Eliot’s Burnt Norton. The sustained B which opens and closes the work and which recurs at intervals suggests the still point. There is a conscious balance between strict writing and controlled aleatoric writing: rhythmic blocks contrast with weaving melodies. At different times each individual player controls the course of the work, giving some freedom within defined limits.
There are three sections: the atmospheric first section uses the colourful qualities of the wind instruments against a background of gentle textural string writing: the fast dissonant middle section is made up of spiky exchanges between instruments and uses extremes of register; the final section returns to the calm of the opening, reversing the relations between the wind and the strings. The strings’ “float phrase,” recalls the first section over a web of constant harmonies created by the wind instruments, ending on the final sustained B.
Chamber Ensemble. Flute-Oboe-Clarinet-Horn-Violin-Viola-Cello-Bass
Commission: Nash Ensemble
Dedication: ‘To Amelia Freedman’
Publisher: Universal Edition