Marimba Concerto


Length / year

14' - 1991

Instrumentation

Solo Marimba / string orch. min. 4/3/2/2/1

Performance history

World Premiere
Bradenstoke Hall, St Donats Castle
17th August 1991
Evelyn Glennie - marimba
City of London Sinfonia

Programme note

Inspired by the remarkable playing of Evelyn Glennie, my 'Marimba Concerto' was written in the first few months of 1991 during the last part of my stay in Canada. The Canadian percussionist Trevor Tureski assisted me with the preparation of the solo part, and the final version was edited by Evelyn Glennie. It was commissioned by Music Fest Aberystwyth with funds made available by the Arts Council of Wales and was premiered in July of that year.

The sound world of the piece is influenced by intense childhood memory, and the musical material, despite its predominant lightness and vitality, reflects that emotional colouration. Also at this time I was approached about the possibility of writing an opera based on the film 'Les Enfants du Paradis', and the larghetto section is a sketch for that work which was, however, never written.

An opening allegro movement sets up the premise of a standard three movement work. There are two expositions of this opening material and everything proceeds according to plan, as it were, until a mysterious lento which ushers in a larghetto section - a slow marimba melody in tremolos. This in turn is variously interrupted by a reference to the opening allegro and two further appearances of the lento. The third main section makes even less progress as a standard closing allegro molto. It quite quickly returns to the tempo of the opening allegro and is interrupted by a variation of the larghetto. After basically deconstructing into continuous variation the work concludes with a direct reference to the opening music.