Full Orchestra
4 (III & IV = picc, IV = picc detuned ¼ tone).3 (III = ca).3 (II = Bb clarinet detuned ¼ tone, III = Eb clarinet + bcl).3 (III = cbsn) - 4. trumpet in D (= Bb ptpt).3 in C (II = trumpet detuned ¼ tone).3.1 - perc (4): glsp/mar/crot/cast/t.bells/BD/2 susp.cym (medium & slightly larger)/whip/2 susp.cym (medium large & large)/3 anvil (small, medium & large)/2 &large)/tgl/tamb/SD - harp - pno (=cel) - synth (=pno sound; detuned ¼ tone) - strings

Commissioned by the Cleveland Orchestra

First Performance
19.11.09, Severance Hall, Cleveland, USA: Cleveland Orchestra/Jonathan Nott

Score 0-571-53884-3 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

Fantasias was commissioned by The Cleveland Orchestra with the generous support of Jan R. and Daniel R. Lewis. Whereas most of my previous orchestral pieces have been in one continuous movement, this work is in separate movements of varying length. The main advantage of this multi-movement form is that it allows much stronger contrasts and more variety of forms to be used within the same work. Fantasias aims to exploit these possibilities. I may possibly add more movements to it at a later date. The tradition of the fantasia in Western music is that of caprice and deliberate willfulness on the surface of the music, as in the wonderful keyboard Fantasias of C.P.E. Bach. Caprice is certainly the characteristic most evident in my own finale: the music rushes headlong from one idea to the next, wildly changing texture and direction every few bars – with just two moments of repose and slackness to allow the listener (and the composer!) to get their bearings. The extremes surface contrasts hide a deeper underlying harmonic and formal continuity, which holds the music together despite all the swerves and gives it an overall sense of goal, which emerges clearly at the end of the movement. Otherwise the most obvious features of these fantasias are their contrasted scoring: for example the first movement uses only the brass, whilst the second, although it uses the full orchestra, features very rich string and wind textures. The second movement is a meditative nocturne in several simultaneous layers. Very slow, almost motionless string textures (with many changes of unusual bowing techniques) are pitted against fast but strangely distant fanfares on wind and some brass (sometimes using ideas from the opening movement). Longer and calmer melodic lines and ideas emerge from time to time. Whether fast or slow, Fantasias is a celebration of the modern symphony orchestra, of which the Cleveland Orchestra is a world-class example. Knowing I was writing for this wonderful orchestra and Maestro Franz Welser-Möst allowed me completely free hand whilst composing. I am very grateful for this opportunity and have tried to make the most of it. Fantasias is dedicated with affection, admiration and gratitude to my publisher Sally Cavender, whose tireless energy in promoting contemporary music is also cause for celebration.

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News & Reviews

Julian Anderson's 'Fantasias' in the UK

Anderson describes his latest orchestral work Fantasias as ‘a celebration of the modern symphony orchestra’. It seems fitting then, that this exhilarating 5-movement work should be performed by one the most forward-looking and youthful of musical establishments, the UK’s National Youth Orchestra. Read more

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