'RiverRun' was Steven Albert's third work inspired by the writing of James Joyce. The opening movement, ‘Rain Music’, is meant to convey the origins of a river. After the sharply accented chords of the movement's introduction, the music becomes quieter, suggesting an atmosphere of expectancy. The lightly – scored second movement, ‘Leafy Speafing’ has a languid, cadenza-like opening on alto flute, followed by a more tightly focused thematic idea from the solo viola. The two instruments then engage in a quiet dialogue against the softly changing chords.
The third movement, ‘Beside the Rivering Waters’, is a fragmented march and scherzo. It opens with a children's song. The march, for the pit band, follows, and we are engulfed in a boozy wake. The scherzo brings a return of the current, then the march returns abruptly, followed by the children's tune - which is in turn transformed into a raucous pub song. Throughout the fourth movement, ‘RiversEnd’, musical ideas from the preceding movements are recalled. Night is falling, and the river is moving quietly into darkness. As it approaches the open sea its momentum builds and it soon becomes a torrent spilling into the ocean. The work ends quietly.