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Programme Notes

23 Frames was composed in 1994 as a gift for Amelia Freedman and the Nash Ensemble. 23 is a favourite prime number of mine, and the ‘frames’ all incorporate a reference – sometimes recognisable but more often not – to existing pieces of music in every one of the 24 major and minor keys except one, which runs throughout as a connecting thread. Each ‘frame’ lasts around 30 seconds, but the musical argument nearly always cuts across the division into frames, with an overall shape of fast – slow – fast. Every possible combination of the four instruments is used – horn, viola, cello and piano – but the choice of combination as well as the sequence of frames is random (my daughter picked the sequence out of a hat!).

An eccentric way to work, certainly, but there is no need to know the details: I wanted to compose a piece which, while tightly controlled, felt rather like an improvisation. As I wrote at the time (now nearly 30 years ago) I was keen to write ‘something both exuberant and zany’.


'[23 Frames] packed memories of Schubert, Scriabin and others into a breathtaking spring…'
The Independent (Nicholas Williams), 11 March 1995

23 Frames

Wigmore Hall (London, United Kingdom)

Alasdair Beatson, Adrian Brendel, Nash Ensemble, Musicians from the Royal Academy of Music

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23 Frames

Snape Maltings Concert Hall (Snape, Suffolk, United Kingdom)

Aldeburgh Young Musicians

23 Frames

"Tinerimea Română"

National Arts Centre (Bucharest, Romania)

23 Frames

BOZAR (Brussels, Belgium)

Nash Ensemble

23 Frames

Kettle's Yard (Cambridge, United Kingdom)

New Music Players