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Sir Harrison Birtwistle: 5 Distances for 5 Instruments

  • for flute, oboe, clarinet in B flat, bassoon and horn in F
  • Duration: 13’50”
  • Composer: Sir Harrison Birtwistle
  • Table of contents:
    Five Distances for Five Instruments
  • Dedication: Dedicated to David Sylvester
  • Commission: Commissioned by the South Bank Centre with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain

Work introduction

It seems that a cheerful and lively argument is going on among the instruments in this wind quintet. The horn and the bassoon contend while the other three players offer commentary, the flute, oboe and clarinet twittering together constantly together. After about seven minutes, there is a pause (with short interruptions) – but soon the music moves on again, accelerating until it reaches the close, exhausted and slow, where it can only repeat the same motifs. Once again, this is instrumental musical theatre.


World première

Purcell Room, London (GB)
Ensemble Intercontemporain

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