Images from a Shrouded Screen


French Horn

Additional Information

'Images from a Shrouded Screen’ is a set of six small, evocative, and often economic movements that look to vividly express images as well as contain a number of references and allegories to other works of classical music:

I. ‘Lever du Jour’: The title is evocative of the impressionistic sunset found in Ravel’s ‘Lever du Jour’ from ‘Daphnis et Chloë’. This movement looks to create a musical sunrise by moving from the long languid lines and murky sonorities of the contrabassoon and bass clarinet at the start of the movement, to the frenetic intensity of the rapid, rhythmically contrasting material, and high tessitura at the end of the movement.

II. ‘Murmuring’: An anxious dialogue ensues between the trio. Fragmented and communicative material in the bassoon and flute is juxtaposed against the cor anglaise’s lyrical melodic line. This material soon reaches a climax and the power dynamic between the instruments is shifted. From bar 19 the flute offers drone like accompaniment to the ostinato figuration in the bassoon and cor anglaise.

III. ‘Lament’: The ground bass and opening melodic phrase from Purcell’s ‘Dido’s Lament’ serve as the foundation of this movement’s thematic material. ‘Lament’ consists of a single melodic line, which through precise instrumental doubling, and carefully selected extended techniques, i.e air tones and flutter tonguing, moves through a number of contrasting sonorities as it travels through the movement.

IV. ‘Harvest Dance’: Looks to capture the energetic intensity of folk dance. Percussive extended techniques are used to create angular, frenzied dance like rhythms, that become more impassioned as the movement goes on. Later glissandi in the french horn and jet whistle technique in the flute are introduced to offer passionate ululations to the texture. This material is juxtaposed against a secondary, more lyrical theme, which is given an ethereal quality from the bass clarinets multiphonics. The harmony in this movement is characterised by its use of a limited set of pitches.

V. ‘Goat Song’: Named after the English translation of Birtwistle’s ‘Tragedia’. ‘Goat Song’ parodies the ritualistic procedures and dithyrambic rhythms of Birtwistle’s music, whilst offsetting them with an awkwardness created by anti-climactic dynamics and pauses.

VI. ‘Le Coucher du Soleil’: This movement is a mirror image of ‘Lever du Jour’ moving from intense, bright material to the long dark lines at the end of the movement. Fragmented snippets of earlier thematic material are heard at bar 11. This is inspired by the effect of light being refracted at the equator, which creates flecks of green as the sun sets.