Thomas Adès, wrote this ingenious 9-minute piano work for himself to play at a 1993 Park Lane Group recital. Its title is an allusion to the John Dowland, whose ‘Semper Dowland semper dolens’ occasionally informs its harmonic and timbral world. The distinctive timbres of the pieces are achieved through an inventive use of preparation: the central octaves of the piano strings are dampened by a strip of Blu-Tack, which is later peeled off all but two notes, to allow a delicate refrain that is traced at the start of the work to be reprised, transfigured, at the close. Like the sound-picture, with its muted, muffled sonorities at the middle of the piano, the broad structure of the piece is also hollow-centered. Adès describes the form as ‘two large wings, each essentially describing a number of descending arcs, separated by a silence’.
‘A kind of trio for one performer: over the pattering middle register a treble line sparkles, ripples, or tings, while the bass murmurs, tolls, holds deep pedal notes. This is inventive piano writing and imaginative new music – flowing, metrically intricate, arresting.’
The Observer (Andrew Porter), 17 January 1993