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Echoes from a Phantom City - for flute, viola and harp
Echoes from a Phantom City was composed in 1985 and first performed in London at the church of St. Martin-in-the-Fields the following year by the Parke Ensemble; it was subsequently played quite extensively by the ensemble and was choreographed by Bridget Johnson for Cascando.
The title is derived from the novel by Alain Robbe-Grillet (Topology of a Phantom City) in which nothing is quite as it seems: the narrative is fragmented and is punctuated by violence, architectural detail and noir gestures, set in the context of a heavy atmosphere of ambiguity and displacement.
In my score the performers are required to cue one another extensively as if participating in some sort of arcane ritual – in fact the players are dependent upon these visual signals from one another in order to move through the music, and they determine the pace at which the music unfolds. My piece is built around cyclic patterns and repetition which hopefully suggest glimpses of a larger, three-dimensional structure in the background - Robbe-Grillet’s fantasy architecture, perhaps - but since it can’t ever be captured in its entirety we must rely on recollection and fading memory to recreate it in our minds.