A breakout success in 1980 at the BBC Proms, Ringed by the Flat Horizon showcased the 20-year-old George Benjamin’s raw talent and imaginative treatment of orchestral textures. This 20-minute orchestral work is literally atmospheric, describing a gathering thunderstorm that explodes then evaporates with whisps of flute and piccolo. It is a panoply of timbres and colours: sudden flashes of metal percussion, distant rumbles of low strings and bass drum, and glowering chorales. The Guardian called this early work ‘a symbiosis of technique and poetry that subsequent works would further refine’.
'The work contains some of the most startlingly precise storm music ever written - it seems less evocation than the sound of the thing itself. But there is more to it than that: Eliot's lines suggested form for the music, and the piece is music, and not just illustration. It moves through an original and convincing musical logic which is realized through a masterly control of varied sonorities.'
Boston Globe (Richard Dyer), September 1987