Movement 1: Allegro risoluto
Movement 2: Scherzo: Allegro molto
Movement 3: Andante espressivo
Movement 4: Rondo: Allegro marcato
The work was originally titled ‘Four English Pieces’, and each movement had a title which gave a clue to its mood and nature: ‘English Overture’, ‘Scherzo at Dawn’, ‘Love Scene’, and ‘Hornpipe’. But it is not the work’s formal structures which matter – they are straightforward essays in statement, contrast and repetition; nor is the work’s thematic content out of the ordinary, being folkish and boldly diatonic for the most part, though not without certain chromatic excursions. What is remarkable is the music’s texture. Conceived mainly contrapuntally, this is adventuresome string writing of a very high order: elaborate divisis (including the use of solo instruments), trills and arpeggios, bowed and plucked strings, with and without mutes – in short, a veritable compendium of effects that render it a worthy companion to the great works for string orchestra by Elgar and Vaughan Williams, Britten and Tippett.
from notes by Michael Hurd © 2000