The Spider's Web takes the form of a mini concerto in 4 movements for solo harp and string orchestra. It is based on Spiders for solo harp written in 1985 which has since become popular amongst harpist internationally.
The solo harp part is virtually the same as the original Spiders, with only a few additions. The orchestra accompanies the harp with added introductions, comments and interludes.
The movements are named after four of the most deadly spiders:
1. Dancing White Lady
2. Red Backed Spider
3. Black Widow
The “Dancing White Lady” is a fast 7/8 movement with lots of crossed rhythms that weave between the orchestra and the soloist.
The second movement starts with a calm orchestral introduction giving the sense of peace. The harp interrupts this calm atmosphere with sharp irregular motives that represent the “Red Backed Spider” who sits patiently for its prey before it strikes with great speed.
In the “Black Widow” movement we enter the mysterious world of timelessness as the spider relentlessly weaves its web.
The last movement, a tarantella, is a wild Neapolitan dance in triple time; it is believed to take its name from the “Tarantula” whose poisonous bite is said causes a “hysterical impulse to dance”.