Sextet: "In Divers Knottes..." for Clarinet, Piano, Percussion, Violin, Viola and Cello.
Composed 1998, published 2000.
Duration: 16 minutes.
This piece has had several working titles, the longest being Asteroceras obtusum (after a coiled fossil found during a summer visit to Lyme Regis), the most cynical, RAE III, and Flying Starts suggested by a colleague during a conversation about the importance of writing music that “takes off”! I decided on a title that conveyed something o the tangled contrapuntal nature of the piece, taken from an extended text by Stephen Hawes (The Historic of Graunde Amoure and la Bell Pucel, 1554):
With Flora paynted and wrought curiously in divers knottes.
With many dragons of marveylos likenes
Of divers floures made, full craftely
By Flora couloured, with colours sundrye.
The piece is episodic and is constructed from three principal textures – the opening music which introduces the only theme of the piece and which is never heard again in this form, the fast and increasingly hectic music which grows as the thee proliferates into several knotted variations of itself, and the very slow music which occurs twice as stark contrast to the surrounding material. Written last and within sight of the deadline, this music leaves some of the decisions to the players – the last gasps of the composer and the gathering energy within the piece! - Sadie Harrison