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This is my first work for flute and piano since three very early (and probably best forgotten) flute sonatas written while studying at university. However, over the years the flute has been an important instrument in my writing, having been used prominently in several choral works and in other chamber scores.
This piece was prompted by the marriage of one of my former students from Epsom Girls Grammar School, Elizabeth Hirst. Liz was part of a quite exceptional group of students that went through the school in the years 1983 to 1987, several of whom have ended up in musical careers internationally (Liz has spent much of her subsequent life in Germany). During her time at the school Liz played in a number of works of mine, most notably Darkness for 14 solo voices and flute, and Slides 8 for solo flute.
This work started with the 3rd movement (originally planned as a stand-alone piece) and evolved into a four movement work. The whole work is intended to be an evocation of aspects of the night. The first movement, 'Lullaby', begins with a small quotation from 'Slides 8' and then into a gentle rocking movement suggestive of a lullaby. The flute part could be considered as a mother quietly humming or singing to her child. The second movement is an adaptation of a song from my song cycle Night Songs (2002). The busy accompaniment suggests the fireflies darting about. The text of the poem begins: 'The fireflies wink and glow, the night is on the march, the cricket clacks his castanets, and the moon hangs in the larch...'. The third movement is a reflective 'night piece' while the final piece is a more exuberant piece perhaps suggesting someone dancing under the moon. The final movement also reprises elements from earlier movements, most specifically from the first movement.
The music is a mix of free tonality, octatonic writing (music using an 8-note scale of alternating tones and semitones) and minimalist procedures. There is little use of 'extended' playing techniques beyond some pitch bending and 'inside the piano' techniques.
For Elizabeth Hirst on the occasion of her wedding (August 2004)