2222 - 2000 strings (min. 65432)


Study score 0571557287 (fp) on sale, full score, piano reduction and parts for hire

Programme Notes

When Madeleine Mitchell commissioned this piece, she asked if I could write a Romanza, with its implications of lyricism and emotional warmth, and I readily agreed. This is my second piece with that title; the first was for cello and small orchestra, composed in 1990 for the Queen Mother’s 90th birthday. Madeleine also suggested that I might write two versions, one with piano and one with strings. Again, this seemed a good idea: I composed the piece initially for string orchestra and then made a reduction for piano. The opening section is marked Andante appassionato. It contains two main ideas, the second more gentle and reflective. When I had brought this opening section to a natural close I was uncertain for some time what should come next. Then I read an essay by Bayan Northcott in which he points out how rare it is to find the 3/4 metre in contemporary music, whether serious or popular. He suggested that if composers want to do something fresh they should try reviving the waltz. I liked this idea and, as much of my opening section was already in triple time, it was easy to speed it up and for a waltz to emerge. This waltz forms a substantial middle section, after which the opening material returns, in a different form, before accelerating again to a distant reminiscence of the waltz (I imagined it played by a musical box). At the end, the waltz theme dissolves, leaving a final falling major second on the unaccompanied violin, the interval with which the piece begins.

© DM


1st public perf

Barbican Theatre (London, United Kingdom)

English Chamber Orchestra/Gluschenko/Raphael Wallfisch


BBC Radio 3 (United Kingdom)

English Chamber Orchestra/Raymond Leppard/Mstislav Rostropovich


Buckingham Palace (London, United Kingdom)

English Chamber Orchestra/Raymond Leppard/Mstislav Rostropovich