Spirit of the Staircase

Tom Coult (1988)

Spirit of the Staircase 2016

1111 - 1110 - perc (1) - pno(=cel) - harp - 11111
Duration 
16
Commissioner 
Publisher 

The fast music often features long staircase-like chains of semiquavers winding upwards and downwards – incrementally climbing or descending before leaping back a few steps and starting again. These are first introduced by a solo piano around three minutes in, but increasingly come to dominate the music in various guises in the first half and last third of the piece. In between these poles, an extended section of music sees the ensemble steadily drift through a sonically strange terrain. This music’s sinuous progress is punctuated only by solos from an enigmatic muted trombone, an insouciant celesta and (most significantly) a leaping, fanfare-like bass flute.

In French, ‘l’esprit de l’escalier’ (staircase wit) is the name given to the phenomenon of thinking of a perfect retort or remark only after the event (when one is already halfway down the staircase).

Tom Coult

Performances 
1.6.16 St John's Smith Square, London: London Sinfonietta/Martyn Brabbins
1
Flute
doubling piccolo and bass flute
1
Oboe
1
Clarinet
doubling contrabass clarinet
1
Bassoon
contrabassoon
1
Horn
1
Trumpet
1
Trombone
1
Percussion
glockenspiel, vibraphone, marimba, bongos, 3 tuned gongs
1
Violin
1
Violin II
1
Viola
1
Cello
1
Double bass
1
Harp
1
Piano
doubling celeste
(Esc)