Composed in my last year at the Royal Academy of Music in London, for an ensemble called Camerata, created by a group of composers especially to perform music by contemporary composers. This Octet was premiered in the Holywell Music Rooms in Oxford in Spring 1991 under the direction of Matthew Taylor.
Unlike string quartets and string trios, which generally consist of standard groups of instruments i.e. 2 violins, a viola, and a violoncello for a string quartet, there is no standard grouping for an octet. The three greatest examples of octets are all for widely differing ensembles, the Mendelssohn is for a double string quartet, the Schubert is scored for string quintet (including double bass) with clarinet, bassoon and horn, and the Stravinsky is for a mixed woodwind and brass ensemble. A few months before starting to work seriously on this Octet, I had composed some arrangements of keyboard pieces by Thomas Tallis (also published by Scherzo Editions) for an ensemble consisting of flute, oboe, clarinet, bassoon, horn, viola, violoncello and double bass. I was attracted to this ensemble because it had similar sonic palette to a small, chamber orchestra. This Octet is written for the same group of instruments. The Octet is divided into three short movements: I. Prelude, II. Aria With Fanfares and III. Rondeau and the general mood is one of a French “divertissement”.
Duration: ca. 9′ | Pages: 108 | Year: 1991
Instrumentation: Flute, Oboe, Clarinet, Bassoon, Horn, Viola, Violoncello, Contrabass