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Symphonically, the second movement in B minor fills the function of a scherzo and in Baroque terms it is the French courante. During it, Ferguson exploits the rhythmic ambiguity of the dance with its six beats in a bar which may be divided into either three groups of two or two groups of three. The indication 'Allegro un poco agitato' gives the clue to the mood of the music which is frequently restless, and as in the Piano Sonata the fall of a semitone plays a significant role here. The contrasting theme, a wistful little melody in 6/4 accompanied by a pedal point, forms the basis of the coda and brings the movement to a hushed but uneasy close.
The slow movement (Andante un poco mosso) is a stately sarabande in the key of B, whose ceremonial gait is threaded by a pervasive mordent. During the middle section the music ascends in register; amidst transparent texture, the sarabande melody is accompanied pianissimo by the mordent decoration and trills to create a passage of delicate beauty.
Following Bach's precepts in some of his Partitas, Ferguson does not adopt a particular dance form for the Finale although he suggests that `hints of a reel may often be lurking around the corner'. From its puckish, scherzando beginnings a sonata-rondo movement evolves in a mood of boisterous good humour. In the central episode the tempo slackens to 'Più lento' and at first the music seems set on a development of the opening idea; however, this is cunningly transformed into an echo of the second movement theme, then extended and intensified into a poignant phrase, dolente and cantabile. But this darker mood does not prevail; the high spirits return and as F sharp major is firmly reached the momentum gathers and plunges headlong to an exhilarating conclusion.
from notes by Andrew Burn © 1984