for 10 players: fl, ob, cl, tpt, perc(1), hp, vln, vla, vc, db
Commissioned by Royal Philharmonic Society, first performed by members of Philharmonia Orchestra, Rüdiger Bohn (cond.), Royal Festival Hall, 27 June 2013
i. Canon a 3
ii. Alla ottava
iii. Per augmentationem et diminutionem
iv. In modulatione descendente (Berceuse)
This piece is essentially a suite of fantastical miniatures – four short, contrasting character pieces that aim for a sense of charm and delight in their abstract playfulness. They are described as ‘perpetual motions’ because they all have certain ways of moving – each piece acts like a machine with certain rules in harmony, melody and rhythm.
The first movement, a three-part canon and the only true moto perpetuo, starts as a mechanical process for plucked and struck instruments but opens out into more melodic material and florid arabesques. The second begins with austere parallel octaves but gradually embraces harmony and flowers into more a more sensuous sound. Over the course of the third movement, slow material gradually speeds up while fast material slows down – until they have swapped places by the end. The final movement is a lilting Berceuse, gradually modulating downwards with intricate decoration towards its tolling conclusion.