Elegy for a wicked world

for flute (piccolo), percussion (one player), violin, viola, cello, double bass.
13 mins.

Commissioned by the 2005 Yoxford Festival. First performed at St. Peter’s Church, Yoxford, Suffolk on 26th August 2005.

Programme notes

Composed for the 2005 Yoxford festival, Elegy for a wicked world was the first instrumental chamber piece I had written for several years. It consists of a single sonata–form movement, framed by an introduction and coda which are dominated by the thudding of funeral drums.

Written in the shadow of the London bombings of July 2005, and the hysterical response by the US and British governments to the resentment provoked by their idiotic foreign adventures, it laments the death of sanity in world affairs – an event symbolised by the Newspeak phrase “war on terrorism” and the insane call to a “crusade” after the attack on the new World Trade Center in New York on September 11th 2001.

It is angry music, therefore; but tightly controlled by the use (almost unprecedented for me) of traditional sonata form. As in most of my music since 2004, this piece uses eight-note tritonal modes; and by choosing two very different examples of these I sought to create a real and audible contrast between the two groups of material which provide the dialectic and motivic force of the piece.

Giles Swayne 2008