First Idyll was composed during 1979-80. Although it retains a little of the evocative and even picturesque character indicated by its title, it is remote from the tradition of mood painting associated in English music with such composers as Delius and Butterworth. Its use of the familiar pastoral ingredients is more abstract and closely-knit; indeed this highly-schematized triadic interplay could only have been conceived in the wake of serialism, however different the resulting sound.
The shape is that of the traditional introduction and allegro. In the introduction a variety of static musical objects gradually comes into view. The allegro unlocks them one by one, drawing out from linear possibilities and working with them into continuity. With the climax this process is complete; a coda keeps up the same momentum while pulling the work’s harmony round to an unexpected (though, in fact, long-prepared) final cadence.
This programme note can be reproduced free of charge in concert programmes with a credit to the composer