This work was commissioned by Linda Merrick and the Kreutzer Quartet, to whom it is dedicated, as a project involving commission, performance, recording, and educational and outreach work. It was supported by funds provided by the PRS for Music Foundation,
RVW Trust, The Holst Foundation, the Royal Northern College of Music, and the Ida Carroll Trust.
Many of the main features of this work, in four sections played without a break, are heard right from the start: the circling music of the two violins (string pairs are also an important element) outlining harmonic content, a viola theme employing a triplet figure and derived (rather distantly) from the example of plainchant, and a pizzicato cello theme of obsessive,
repetitive dance-like character. The entry of the clarinet cuts off the gradual growth of this texture and seems to want to push the music in a different direction, but the quartet resumes much as before, though with changes. Though they are not in opposition, the clarinet and the string quartet often “contradict” each other as the work progresses, though at other times they share the development of the material or explore together a particular texture. The main slow section, which follows a scherzo-like part, is the most lyrical, gradually allowing two themes (one in clarinet, the other in strings) to emerge from fragments – the clarinet tune is finally taken up by the strings, but re-emerges in the clarinet during the course of the final quick section, which is predominantly like a quodlibet of different dance musics.