first performance: July 16, 2004
venue: Lady Chapel, Lichfield Cathedral, Lichfield
performer(s): Rascher Saxophone Quartet
scoring: saxophone quartet
click here for pdf of score (pages 1-10)- pdf file will open in new window
Gossamer was written for the Rascher Quartet and is around fourteen minutes in duration. It is a highly virtuosic piece, and was written very much with the sound of the Rascher Quartet in mind, with their unique blend of expressiveness, technical wizardry and ensemble unity.
Written in one continuous movement, the work begins on a unison note, which then stretches out into a constantly changing chord. Out of this idea, more mercurial themes shoot off in different directions, often creating very dense, if delicate, textures. This, along with the sound world created by the quartet as they weave in and out of each other’s notes, led to the choice of title. The development of themes frequently becomes animated, vigorous and energetic, but this often folds in towards a cluster or unison, as was heard at the opening. The rude outbursts heard over the becalmed cluster at the beginning illustrate the juxtaposition of textures which characterises the entire piece. Frequently, smoother, more lyrical lines are interrupted by rougher, angular music. A very basic motivic element in the piece, just two notes, is constantly developed throughout, initially very energetic and playful, but becoming increasingly plaintive and yearning. Towards the end, the energy that has dominated so much of the music finally dissipates, and the melodic fragments thread together the final hushed musical gestures of the piece.