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"And from about him fierce effusion roll'd
Of smoke and bickering flame, and sparkles dire"
– John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book IV
Smoke and bickering (or flashing) flame surround Messiah's chariot "driving into the midst of his enemies" on the third day of the battle against Satan and his Angels. Unable to resist "they leap down with horror and confusion into the place of punishment prepar'd for them in the Deep: Messiah returns with triumph to his Father". With consignment to "The Deep", I imagine Satan's followers must be faced with many conflicting emotions – even nostalgia for their past condition.
"Of Smoke and Bickering Flame" comprises eight short movements. The movements are related to each other in pairs after the following pattern: I and VI, II and V, III and VII, and IV and VIII.
Commissioned by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra with financial assistance from the Scottish Arts Council.
- Con Fuoco (with fire)
- Sospirando (sighing)
- Nostalgia 1 - piacevole (agreeable)
- Gorgogliante (babbling or bickering)
- Soave (light and delicate, or a cool white wine)
- Animato (lively)
- Nostalgia 2 - sfogato (airy, light and easy - a term sometimes used by Chopin to mean this)
- Infocato (red hot)