This is the programme note written for the World Premiere with TORSO under Marion Wood on Thursday 8th February 2001. The original can be view on the TORSO website.
I became acquainted with TORSO, The Outrageously Romantic Symphony Orchestra when several friends who played in the orchestra asked me to attend a concert. After a couple more visits to performances of Romantic music by TORSO, I began formulating a musical composition specifically designed for them. I had observed the instruments they had available, and the way they played, and I accordingly crafted the piece. I first scored this piece for multiple pianos, then later, after consultation with a number of the players, I orchestrated the piano score. I wanted the musical material to have a sense of rightness for the instruments.
Whenever I heard this piece, I would be reminded of Irish dance. I looked at what type of dance would fit, and the Reel was the closest dance. (However, Reels are usually in 6/8, though this one is actually more like 12/8, compound quadruple time). The use of the harp was a deliberate Celtic association, as was the Bodhràn (which may or may not be present at this performance). There are many themes and motifs in the piece, possibly more than 10. After close inspection, they all appeared to linked, so the piece could be said to be monothematic.
I wanted to explore a 3 against 2 effect, which occurs throughout the piece. This rhythmic effect posed continuous problems for the scoring, as I had to write it one way for the harp, then a totally different way for the horns, and then a totally new scoring for the strings. The problems of achieving genuine 3 against 2 cross-rhythms continued well into the rehearsals. I was not alone with this, as rehearsals of Tchaikovsky 4 uncovered yet more 3 against 2 challenges, albeit more subtly incorporated.
Programme note by Andrew March