There has been much talk in recent years of a ‘North-South Divide’ in Britain. Usually this is regarded as an economic barrier, but other factors – culture, custom, and dialect – can serve to separate. The piece opens cautiously with The North (Wind Instruments) exchanging arguments with The South (Strings). Gradually the piece descends almost to the point of open conflict. At this moment, the piano makes a conciliatory statement and a mutual understanding is developed and arrived at in the final bars.
The double bass part in the fifth variation can be on the horn and oboe, as cued in the score