Robert Simpson said that Volcano can be heard as an evocation of a volcanic eruption, as the expression of a volcanic temperament (thereby prefiguring The Four Temperaments written just four years later), or purely as a piece of music. Unlike Vortex, the tempo constantly fluctuates in a manner that mey recall the later symphonies of Havergal Brian, and an overall pattern emerges, contrasting slow and fast tempi. The uneasy tension that hovers around the opening Calmissimo might convey to the listener the gentle smouldering of a volcano, soon to be shattered by the ferocity of the first spasmodic eruptions. In between the violent Allegros are placed two Meno mosso sections. Here serene, softly sustained melodies on solo cornets and tenor horn drift past ‘as from a clear sky’, against rich, long-held chords. When this section occurs a third and final time, Lento just as a fleeting reminiscence, the music quietly disappears into space; the volcano is calm once more.
from notes by Matthew Taylor © 1991
|Simpson: Music for Brass|
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