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John McCabe

Publisher: Novello & Co

Desert II: Horizon (1981)
commissioned by the Harrogate International Festival with funds from Yorkshire Arts
Novello & Co Ltd
Works for Band/Wind/Brass Ensemble
Year Composed
13 Minutes
Alternate Orchestration
Brass Band (1987)
Programme Note
John McCabe Desert II: Horizon (1981)
While paying visits to the United States and the Middle East for performances of his music, McCabe became fascinated with the desert scenery he saw round him - the vast unbroken spaces, the scuttling lizards, the brief but dramatic flowering of brightly coloured plants, the limitless, seemingly desolate expanses which in reality teemed with life - so much so that he determined to try to evoke his impressions musically. The result is a series of works called DESERT. Horizon is the second of these, and in it he vividly captures the constantly altering shapes, and effects of changing light and shade: perhaps it is not too fanciful to imagine mirages, a green oasis or even a distant caravan on the skyline.

It is, of course, much more than mere atmospheric tone painting though. Its single movement falls into several distinct sections, covering a wide range of dynamics, tempi and moods. There are important roles for piccolo trumpet, for flugelhorn and a virtuosic tuba part. Individual instruments combine themselves into groups within the larger ensemble in a display of McCabe's colouring, scoring and resourceful part-writing at its most deft.
© 1984 Robert Harding

  • Ensemble
    Massed Bands
    Howard Snell
  • Ensemble
    Britannia Building Society Band / Massed Bands
    Howard Snell
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