Duration: 16’
Dedicated to Bill (Frisell and Cadman)
Instrumentation: Solo electric guitar, 2 violas, cello.
First performance: studio recording (ECM Records, Rainbow Studios, Oslo, 17, 18 September 1990.
(see 1998 for subsequent version)

Note : After the Requiem (1990)

After the Requiem (1990)

I had written the Cadman Requiem in 1989 for the Hilliard Ensemble in memory of my friend and sound engineer Bill Cadman, who was killed in the Lockerbie air crash. His death affected me very deeply and, pending a recording of this piece, Manfred Eicher asked if I might like to develop an instrumental work from this, using the same instrumentation for accompaniment and retaining the same opening bars as part of a new ECM album. The piece is "after" the Requiem therefore in the musical sense of being based on it, in the chronological sense of following on from it, and in the spiritual sense of representing that state which remains after mourning is (technically) over. I wrote the piece in Venice in September 1990 and finished it in Oslo on the day of the recording, where I added the electric guitar of Bill Frisell. This, I felt, blended particularly well with low strings (originally 2 violas and cello; in live performance sometimes viola, cello and bass). Coincidentally, having used certain distortion effects on the guitar, we found that we were recording on the twentieth anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix. Within the music I use one or two modified extracts from the Cadman Requiem itself, and from its common source Invention of Tradition, for which Bill Cadman had done the sound design.

The piece is dedicated to the two Bills (Cadman and Frisell).

Duration: 30’
Commissioned by Rambert Dance Company for dance choreographed by Lucinda Childs.
Instrumentation: alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flugelhorn, horn, trombone, piano, electric keyboard, bass,, taped voice (or male alto), 2 percussion.
First performance: Apollo Theatre, Oxford, 16 November 1990.

Note : Four Elements (1990)

Four Elements (1990)

Four Elements was commissioned by Rambert Dance Company for the ballet by Lucinda Childs in 1990. I got to know Lucinda's work through the director Robert Wilson at the time I was working on his The CIVIL WarS. from 1981 to 1984. I had let Lucinda have some tapes and she made a solo dance, Outline, to one of these pieces (Out of Zaleski's Gazebo). The commission from Rambert provided the opportunity, finally,  for us to meet. The initial idea for the dance was hers and we discussed many times throughout that year the nature of the piece, its structure and relative pace. The music falls into in 4 sections: 'Water', 'Earth', 'Air' and 'Fire', each one being given a different musical character in terms of tempo, instrumental emphasis and colour; and theatrical character through different permutations of the 8 dancers ('Earth', for example uses only the 4 females, while 'Air' uses the 4 male dancers), the relative complexity of repetitive movement and the use of space.

Part 1 - 'Water' - is slow and features the bass clarinet and colouristic percussion (including the water gong).

Part 2 - 'Earth' - is at a medium tempo with a slow melodic line for tuned percussion and a mirrored line for wind instruments.

 Part 3 - 'Air' - is fast with an accompaniment by keyboards supporting high solo parts for (in sequence) alto saxophone, flugelhorn, and sax with French horn.

Part 4 - 'Fire' - is slow with overlapping lines for unison brass (trombone, horn, flugelhorn) and amplified double bass, using effects pedals, with bass clarinet, over slow keyboard arpeggios and ends with a Coda in which David James' alto voice sings a short vocalise over low drones from the ensemble....

As well as working closely with Lucinda I also had a fruitful collaboration with Roger Heaton, then music director of Rambert who is also clarinettist in my own ensemble. I deliberately chose to use a range of instruments that I had not used before - especially the combination of instruments in the wind section (alto saxophone, bass clarinet, flugelhorn, French horn and tenor trombone). The piece was first performed at the Apollo Theatre Oxford in November 1990 and subsequently filmed for BBC Television's Dancemakers series.

Duration: 25’
Dedicated to the Balanescu Quartet
Commissioned by the Balanescu Quartet.
First performance: St Paul's Hall. (Huddersfield, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival) 1 December 1990.

Note : String Quartet no.2 (1990)

String Quartet no.2 (1990)

The second string quartet was written in 1990 commissioned by the Huddersfield Festival and the Balanescu Quartet. By then I had worked with Alex Balanescu a good deal and had come to know members of the quartet personally. At that time the quartet had an interesting international mix of players: Rumanian first violin, American second, English viola and Scottish cello and there are passages which reflect that personal acquaintance, for example the quasi-Scottish lament played at the end by the cello answered by the first violin (Scotland 1 Rumania 1, rewriting football history). At the same time there were devices that I tried in an experimental way, such as the use of the 'bottleneck' to produce an extreme form of portamento to an extended cello melody (playing in unison with the viola) in an extremely high register giving an effect not unlike the sound of the Onde Martinot. There are moments in this quartet unlike anything else I have written, the very fast section for example in which the ensemble play pulsing chords at very high speed and then, little by little, melodies emerge as chords which have previously been played by single notes on the four stringed instruments are changed to double stops thereby freeing individual instruments to play melodic phrases. In a way the second quartet begins where the first quartet ends - with harmonics, though here only artificial ones and with normal tuning - rather like the second episode of a television series ("Previously on Twin Peaks....."). The second quartet is a more relaxed, easy-going piece than the first being less referential and paying closer attention to the ways in which this particular combination of strings can cohere in the diverse pairing of instruments, the use of solo versus accompaniment in surprising ways, in the contrasts between homogeneity and heterogeneity.

Duration: 7’
Instrumentation: 2 violins
Dedicated to Alexander Balanescu, Liz Perry and John Carney
First performance (no.2): St Paul's Hall Huddersfield (Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival) 2 December 1990
(NB. also included as part of Die Letzten Tage , q.v. 1992)