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This work, dedicated to Paul Sacher, was commissioned by that conductor, who gave the premiere performance in 1990. Dunkles Spiel is not virtuosic percussion concerto; but although the four soloists are positioned separately (at the four corners of the orchestra or away from the ensemble), the harp and the piano often have their equally important parts to play – their colours, along with the bass clarinet, give the sound the dark timbre the title suggests.
The first part is slow, the percussion used sparingly; as the piece progresses, the sound becomes denser, the percussionists playing rhythmic patterns almost suggestive of Africa, until ultimately the music becomes more transparent, slower and quieter.
Translation: Grant Chorley