Night Music


small orchestra
Chamber/Small Orchestra
2.2(II=ca).2(II=bcl).2 - 2(1)00 - timp(=rototom or tom-t+glsp) - strings (min

Commissioned by Apollo Chamber Orchestra

First Performance
22.5.77, St John's Smith Square, London: Apollo Chamber Orchestra/Andrew Massey

Full score on sale 0-571-50534-1, parts for hire

Programme Notes
Colin Matthews Night Music Night Music is a single slow movement, sombre in colour. That is not to say that there is no variation of pace or texture within the work’s twenty-minute span, but the overall tempo is slow, and the colours are predominantly dark. The title reflects this, rather than any specific association with night-time: but perhaps there is something programmatic about the two short sections framing the turbulent centre of the work. Both are high-pitched, the one full of nocturnal rustlings, the other bright like a dawn chorus. However this wasn’t deliberate, and only occurred to me some time after the work was composed. The simplest ways to describe the music is as being in five sections, an arch-shape, with the outer sections balancing each other. Much of the first and nearly all of the second of the nightmarish central section is pitched below middle C; the second of the two ‘framing’ sections is, by contrast, pitched entirely above C. The tentative lyricism of the opening is more fully developed at the end, where the tensions of the music are to some extent resolved. But it’s not a perfect arch-shape, since the ending is deliberately inconclusive. I wrote Night Music between the summer of 1976 and spring of 1977 to a commission from the Apollo Chamber Orchestra, who gave the first performance under Andrew Massey in London in May 1977. It is dedicated to the memory of Deryck Cooke, whose death while I was composing the work no doubt influenced its somewhat elegiac mood. Colin Matthews

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News & Reviews

'Night Music' reviews

‘… the total effect was evocative, atmospheric, solemn.’ The Independent (Raymond Monelle), 20 January 1988 Read more

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