Etwas zurückhaltend was written in 1982 when I was a student of John Casken's at the University of Durham. The piece was forgotten until last year, when I realised that there was a lot in its ideas which seemed current and relevant to my recent work. The title comes from Wagner's indication for the final pages of Götterdämmerung, and the work reflects an ongoing interest in this composer, which has been reflected at various points since in my own work. The work opens with a static, floating music which accompanies little fragments of increasingly expressive phrases on the first violin. This builds towards a series of outbursts of pizzicatos and arpeggios before the music heads off into more mysterious territory.
Allusions to motifs from The Ring are never far away.
A rhythmic and energetic Allegro eventually establishes itself which rushes towards a frantic and free climax. The work ends with a tentative and tense coda, with nods still being made in the direction of The Ring's final Immolation Scene. The work is in one single movement and lasts about 15 minutes.
James MacMillan, 2010
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer