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University of Keele Ambitus / Michael Bell
This Serenade for string sextet with optional double-bass was written April-May 1986, though its opening idea and some of the subsidiary material had been in the back of my mind for some years, awaiting the right place. The music plays continuously, contrasting episodes opening out from each other, the whole contained within the continuity of the long opening melody and its various returns in the manner of interlinked stories in the Arabian Nights. The episodes balance vigour, even turbulence, with playfulness and tenderness (one is marked heimlich – "secretly"), and the overall character is sunny and relaxed. This deliberate pursuit of amicability and sweetness is a direct result of hostile journalistic criticism of a previous Serenade of mine for attempting these unfashionable qualities. My reaction was not to obey and desist, but on the contrary to go for them the more completely. The Serenade in G is dedicated affectionately to my colleague Hugh Wood.
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