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MacMillan, James: Sinfonietta (1991) 19'
for orchestra or chamber orchestra


afl(=picc).corA.Ebcl(=bcl).ssax.dbn-1.picctpt.1.1-perc(2):glsp/vib/wdbl/2cowbells/2congas/SD/2tam-t(med,lg)/t.bells/tgl/abvil/2tom-t/BD/susp.cym(lg)/sizzle cym(lg)-harp-pft-strings(min:

Abbreviations (PDF)


This work is available from Boosey & Hawkes for the world.

World Premiere

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London
London Sinfonietta / Martyn Brabbins

Composer's Notes

Sinfonietta begins serenely with very still textures, slowly moving chords and repeating melodic material. The feeling is ritualistic and calm. With a series of extremely sudden jolts and furiously emphatic repetitions the music swings gradually towards a grotesque, quasi-militaristic central section. This swaggering parody of a march brings the rich raucous wind sounds to the fore as the music becomes more frenetic. The climax throws this bellicose craziness into stark juxtaposition with a re-emergent floating material on unison strings which re-establishes the mood of the opening. This simple arch-form takes the work from the tranquil to the visceral and back again.

James MacMillan, 1999

Reproduction Rights
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer

Press Quotes

"...a 20-minute arch, beginning with chant-like melodies before erupting with Varèse-like violence into a grotesque march, which veers in and out of focus before subsiding into the quietude of the opening again."
Financial Times

Recommended Recording

Graeme McNaught, pft / Scottish Chamber Orchestra / James MacMillan
BIS CD 1119

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