Winternacht was written in 1976-78 and the title was taken from a poem by the Austrian poet Georg Trakl. The four movements, which are all very precise and dreamingly poetic, are almost classical in terms of clarity and discipline in orchestration and form: hence the dedication of the third movement to Igor Stravinsky. However, the music has a strong impressionistic quality as well: four introverted still lives of the velvety, dark iceness of a silvery winter night (one can veritably sense the fairy-tale-like sleigh ride in the two outer movements).
The second movement is dedicated to the eccentric lithographer M.C. Escher and the first and last movements are both dedicated to Georg Trakl. As in the well-known orchestral work, Stratifications, we can enjoy Abrahamsen's fascination with having several events occur simultaneously: a thoughtful as well as playful multilayered quality mirrors the poetic and mysterious worlds of painting, literature, nature and most important of all: music.