"Birtwistle was inspired to compose this magnificent avant-garde orchestral geology by the Scottish geologist James Hutton, by the idea that "we find no vestige of a beginning, no prospect of an end" in the rocks of this earth, only a state of constant alteration… Musical layers of rock grate against each other, interrupted by violent percussion outbursts and shrill wind sounds – magma and scree, hurled musically into the air…"
"...an immensely powerful, sometimes breathtakingly beautiful work… Birtwistle may use an orchestra in which low-pitched instruments – tubas, bass and contrabass clarinets, contrabassoons – are emphasised, but the landscapes that the music traverses are wonderfully varied and coloured. There are pulsing Stravinskyan repetitions, cascades of chattering woodwind, Boulez-like toccatas of tuned percussion and long-limbed solos, led off of by soprano saxophone, which float over transparent webs of strings…one of Birtwistle’s finest orchestral achievements."
"The work was inspired by the vast slowness of geological time, and the way this slowness is occasionally riven by sudden catastrophes and slippages. The piece itself revealed a more human scale, with a melancholy cor anglais solo arousing memories of Birtwistle’s earlier processionals, and moments of pulsating energy in marimbas and plucked cellos. It was grandly impressive…"
"Birtwistle’s fingerprints are all over this new work – the fascination with layers of time, the growling echoes of the distant past, the rhythmic tread of the passing years, each as distinctive as ever…"