David Sawer: Tiroirs

  • for chamber ensemble
  • 1 1 2 1 - 2 1 1 0 - perc(2), hp, pno, str(1 1 2 2 1)
  • Duration: 12’
  • Instrumentation details:
    1(/picc/alto)·1·2(1/Eb/contl 2/contl)·1 - 2·1·1·0 - perc(2) - hp - pf(/cel) - strings(1 1 2 2 1)
  • Composer: David Sawer
  • Commission: Commissioned by the Michael Vyner Trust for The London Sinfonietta

Work introduction

“...a random phrase from which I drew images by distorting it, a little as though it were the case of deriving them from the drawings of a rebus;” (from How I wrote Certain of my Books by Raymond Roussel)

This piece was prompted by the literary techniques of the French surrealist writer, Raymond Roussel, who invented word games and language 'machines' – rhyming puns, double-entendres and metagrams (whereby the meaning of a word is changed by altering one letter) – to create theatrical scenarios, images and characters, both magical and monstrous.

It is written in one continuous movement made up of interlocking episodes (tiroirs) which, with twists and turns, open up in the manner of a Russian doll.

David Sawer 1996


World première

Queen Elizabeth Hall, London (GB)
London Sinfonietta
Paul Daniel

Press reviews

“It was probably significant that the most satisfying piece of the weekend, Tiroirs, by David Sawer, should come from a composer who makes no concessions to popularism, but who has proved his credentials outside the new music circuit, as his various orchestral commissions (such as his 1992 Proms piece, Byrnan Wood) and Tiroirs – cogently argued, witty and not a moment too long – eloquently testified.”

(Anthony Bye, The Financial Times)

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