The 7-minute piece is a homage to the Romanian-born sculptor Constantin Brâncuși. Its title is not taken from his work, but rather reflects the simplicity of line and formal clarity of the sculptor’s work, which Anderson identifies with the prelapsarian mood evoked in the piece: “a glimpse of a lost innocence to which to aspire”. Brâncuși’s The Kiss, showing two lovers entwined in ecstatic union, is reflected in the hockets Anderson writes, as well the clear and transparent surfaces that characterise the work.
Eden is based on non-tempered harmonics – a regular fixture of Anderson’s work – and employs detuned woodwinds, trumpets, harp, and keyboard. The special colour and brightness of these tunings is introduced in melodies for solo viola and cello that open the work, played without vibrato like Renaissance viols. It premiered with Martyn Brabbins and the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra at the Cheltenham Music Festival in 2005. Since it has become one of Anderson’s most performed orchestral works, taken up by conductors including Sakari Oramo, Franz Welser-Möst (with the Cleveland Orchestra), George Benjamin (with the Concertgebouw) and Ilan Volkov.
A longtime supporter of Anderon’s music, Edward Gardner made his Barbican debut in 2007 conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra in Anderson’s Symphony No.1 – another piece inspired by visual art. He conducted the world premiere of Anderson’s Thebans, directed by Pierre Audi, at English National Opera in 2014; in October 2017 Gardner showcased Anderson’s music again at the Barbican with the BBC SO as part of the day-long Total Immersion focus.