About the work
This piece for flexible ensemble, piano and percussion develops some of the techniques used in The Four Temperaments. The ensemble is divided into high and low wind and brass, and high and low strings. The string parts in particular can sound bold and dangerous with sweeping glissandi and fast, jagged bowing across the strings. The pianist also has a genuinely virtuosic role playing hard, hammered semiquavers towards the end which develop into a welter of sound (the fastest notes the player can execute). All this unstable energy is ‘tempered’ by the sombre wind and brass chords.
First Performance: 19 June 2004, Spitalfields Festival, CoMA London Ensemble
Both wind/brass and string parts are divided into high and low, with two separate lines in each. Performers should allocate parts. In certain places where extremes of range are used, alternative pitches have been suggested in brackets to make the music practical for a variety of instruments. For example in bars 16-20 it is assumed that the viola might be considered a ‘low’ stringed instrument. However, unbracketed pitches are always preferable.The piano writing is crisp yet resonant throughout and needs pedalling at all times. In passages such as bars 33-34, 36-43 and the groups of quavers at the end, the sustaining pedal should be down.Percussion: Timpani may be used, hence the pitched drum part. However, of no timpani are available, any deep, resonant unpitched drum may be used. Likewise, if there are no pitched bells available, any chimes or other resonant metallic instruments may be used, struck with a beater or small mallet.
Commissioned by COMA for Open Score Project 2004: ‘The Four Temperaments’