At First Light was premiered in 1982 by Simon Rattle and the London Sinfonietta. Written when Benjamin was only 22, this 20-minute work for 14 players was inspired by a JMW Turner’s Norham Castle, Sunrise. Across the three movements of At First Light Benjamin explores the transformation of his material into different states: sometimes solid and unyielding in defined musical phrases, at others dissipated and melting into “a nebulous continuum of sound”.
“[Benjamin] further refines his ideal of musical economy to include the art of suggesting big sounds from slender means. Turner-inspired, At First Light draws out its exquisite ideas to symphonic length.”
The Independent (Nicholas Williams), 14 March 2000