In this work all three players in turn play each of the three instruments - piccolo, flute and alto flute - thus giving a contrasted sound to match the character of the four linked movements: hence the title.
using all three alto flutes begins on the lowest note - G. The mood gradually changes as they introduce higher pitches and faster rhythms as they "wake up".
a flute introduces the melody, which is then shared by a second flute and later by the alto flute.
the piccolos arrive on the scene. The first one incites another piccolo and then the flute to join in. The tempo quickens and after a brief climax the mood quietens leading to Peaceful.
In this last movement all three instruments are played. In turn they present a lyrical melody but in different keys so as to suit their individual tessituras.
Programme note by Thea Musgrave