These Premises Are Alarmed


Full Orchestra
3 picc(I=fl).0.3.3(II in A=bcl.III=Ebcl).3(III=cbsn) – 4.3(III=ptpt).2(I=bass tpt).btrbn.btuba – perc(4): crot/mar/9 large roasting tins/hi-hat/4 field drum/ant.cym/4 gong/glsp/2 BD/tam-t/geophone/2 wdbl/timp/3 SD/rototom – pno(=cel) – harp – strings (

Written for the Hallé Orchestra

First Performance
12.9.1996, Bridgewater Concert Hall, Manchester, UK: Hallé Orchestra/Kent Nagano

Score 0-571-51887-7 on sale, parts for hire

Programme Notes

For a composer still in his mid‑twenties, Thomas Adès has produced a formidably large body of work marked by an enormous variety of medium and scale.  His music is full of invention and shows a remarkable ear for texture and effect that must derive to some extent from his excellence as a performer.  These Premises Are Alarmed is a short piece for full orchestra that was commissioned by the Hallé Concerts Society and premiered in Manchester in September 1996.  As the composer wrote on that occasion:

Having enjoyed two happy years as Composer in Association with the Hallé Orchestra, I was delighted when Kent Nagano proposed a new piece to be played at the opening concerts of the Bridgewater Hall.

The thrill of writing for a new, as yet unknown, acoustic was at the forefront of my mind in composing These Premises are Alarmed, and the central section of the piece is disguised to give as strong a sense as possible of the size and shape of the space it is played in.  Obviously, the virtuosity and richness of sound of the Hall were an equally important spur to creation.

As for the title, I felt that any important new building must need adequate security; and what better way could there be of proofing a new concert hall than with brand new music?

To which one might add that in barely five minutes Adès has managed to compress just about every sound and playing technique of which orchestral instruments are capable; that the musical space ranges from extremely high registers (three piccolos) to extremely low, with a corresponding dynamic range from very loud to very soft; fiendishly tricky rhythms within a flexible and constantly changing overall tempo; and that this kaleidoscope of shifting elements is combined and structured with a Stravinskyan clarity and precision.

© Matias Tarnopolsky

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