Chimeric Images was commissioned by the First New York International Festival of the Arts and composed in late 1987 and early 1988. The premiere was heard at Alice Tully Hall, New York on June 21, 1988 with the composer conducting. The piece is scored for three woodwinds, two brass, four strings, harp and piano. As its title suggests, much of the work is in the nature of fantasy, a dreamscapea dreamscape not in that vaguest sense which we associate with dreams, but in that more structured form in which dantasies and dreams can sometimes appear to be quite real. This overall mood is set right away in the long lines of the leisurely paced introduction of the first movement. While the robust, somewhat bouncy theme of the Allegro middle section (marked mit Schwung) breaks this mood, its energy is soon spent and the music returns to calm and serenity.
The second movement, Arioso, evolves from its initial fragmented filigree textures into a series of more sustained recitative-ariettas, featuring the three woodwinds and accompanied by light, transparent string sonorities. With but a tiny pause, the third movement continues the discourse, now featuring each of the eleven instrumentalists in a succession of solos or duets: contrabassbassoon and cello duethornviolin and violaharp and pianoclarinettrumpetand finally the flute in brilliant cascading runs. Parallel to this chain of sonoric links, the music rises gradually registrally from the depths of the bass to the heights of the flute. At the same time, a gradual increase in tempo brings the movement from its initial Lento to a spirited and climactic Allegro.