for symphony orchestra: 3(3+picc).3(3=c.a).3(1+Eb,3+B.cl).3(3=contra), 4.3.3(3=b.tmb).1, perc(3), hp, strings (22.214.171.124.6).
Commissioned by Sound and Music as part of an ‘Embedded’ residency with BBC Symphony Orchestra, and first performed by BBC Symphony Orchestra, Garry Walker (cond.), Maida Vale Studios, London, 14 November 2013
Luigi Serafini is an eccentric Italian artist whose major work, the Codex Seraphinianus, is a compendium of imaginary animals, landscapes, buildings, fauna and inventions – each illustration meticulously annotated in a made-up script, as if we had come across a systematic encylopaedia from a world that doesn’t exist. The fantastical inventions include trees uprooting from the ground and swimming into the sea, circular fish that skim across the water like frisbees, men whose eight faces spin round like weather-vanes, and elaborate helicopter-like machines for shooting rainbows through the sky. Serafini’s goal – to create something imaginative, fantastical and beautiful yet essentially meaningless – is one that I identify with as a composer. Like one of Serafini’s illustrations, then, my piece has no discernible function except to hopefully charm and beguile the listener.