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This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere
Philharmonie, Kammermusiksaal, Berlin
Horn players of the Berlin Philharmonic / Brett Dean
Composer's Notes

I A slow procession – II Edgy and jagged – III Spacious

These 3 pieces were commissioned by the ‘8 Horn Players of the Berlin Philharmonic’ for their Berlin recital in October 1998. The initial inspiration for this piece was indeed the group itself: a collection of horn players or exceptional virtuosity, beauty of sound and sheer power. Without a doubt the horn group is, for me, a constantly thrilling element of being a member of this orchestra. In fact the repertoire of the orchestra in general often provides a stimulating source of inspiration when I’m composing. We were touring in Italy when I was approached by Fergus McWilliam to write for the 8 horns. The main work on this particular tour was Mahler’s 3rd Symphony and so the atmosphere of its quiet, introspective 8-horn chorales in the 1st and 4th movements quite naturally became an interesting and distinctive “starting point” for me as I began gathering ideas.

Indeed, the 1st of my 3 pieces seemed to evolve from that very moment in the Mahler Symphony: a funeral procession that climbs slowly and relentlessly to a middle section whose triumphant fanfares are quickly exposed to be a sham, an artifice that only emphasises all the more the darkness of the oscillating chords to which the music returns. The following movement is an angular scherzo in which forthright unisons, irregular bar-lengths and fast repeated notes passages lend the music aggressive, unsettled and impetuous qualities. The contrast of clusters of both minor and major seconds also adds or reduces to the tension. The quiet, central dialogue of 3 muted horns offers only a temporary respite. The final movement is extremely sparse in character, its title relating not only to the slow tempo, but also to the wide chord-spacings that such an ensemble of horns can offer. This is a movement of introspection, a floating, serene chorale in which echoes of the moods of the previous movements only fleeting rise to the surface.

© Brett Dean

Reproduction Rights
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer

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