Echoes from an Antique Land
premiere: 15 January 1985, BBC Studios, London, UK, London Percussion Ensemble, Oliver Knussen, conductor
Echoes from an Antique Land is a development of a piece which began life as a flute solo. I was aiming to achieve a fluidity of rhythm and a feeling of expansion and contraction. Within each phrase the rhythm proceeds in groups of notes which expand and contract. In this concerted piece each instrument has a line which is fluid but has a strong rhythmic impetus and sense of direction; in which the gathering accumulations and dispersions give a feeling of eddies and currents.
Within the piece as a whole, the length of the phrases expand and contract. In a similar way, the phrases begin on a particular note centre, and gradually expand out of it. Sometimes they return to the same note centre, but mostly they expand and"settle" on a different centre. These different centres are part of the larger design of expansion and contraction; and in the places where the feeling of "settling" needs to be particularly emphasised to show the end of the whole section, I have deliberately used some devices of archaic cadential formulae, to achieve extra anchorage.
The title of the piece refers both to these older musical references and to the feeling of age of a landscape eroded into curves and outcrops.
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Works for Percussion by this Composer