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