I Fanfares and Questions;
II Lament and Hymn;
IV Funeral March;
V Quodlibet en rondeau
The subtitle of this brass quintet – Divertimento no.5 – is at first sight misleading, as the movement-headings show. The alert vivacity of the first is constantly subverted by quizzical changes of direction which finally produce something more akin to anguish than mere annoyance at the questions’ receiving no answer. This serious side is taken further in the weightiest movement, the Funeral March (iv); and is not altogether lost in the exuberance of the finale, which indeed, being a quodlibet (that is, a mixture of materials from the preceding movements together with its own new rondo-theme), necessarily has to work them both in. In a completely different way – light, gentle, withdrawn – the second movement is also rather serious. So the only unshadowed one of the five is the briefest – the little scherzo that comes in the middle (iii). Nevertheless the spirit of the work as a whole is that of a divertimento – tranquil by the end of the first movement, unmistakable and triumphant by the end of the last.
It was commissioned for the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble with funds provided by West Midland Arts; and was written over 1986-7.
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer