Nightfires

Tom Harrold (1991)

Nightfires 2016

picc.2.3.2.bcl.2.cbn / 4.3.3.1 / timp.perc(3):4tom-t/3cowbells/anvil/tam-t/BD/2bongos/susp.cym/h-hats/2timbales/kickBD/RopeD/t.bells/crot/mar | 14.12.10.8.6
Duration 
10
Genre 
Commissioner 

Nightfires is written in one continuous movement which lasts around ten minutes. Titles are usually amongst the last decisions I make as part of my writing process, so unusually for me, I decided on Nightfires as the title for the work long before the musical material existed (even in sketch form). The work is designed to be a hard-hitting, energised concert-opener. There was little intention to write programmatic music, but more to use the title as a catalyst for the piece (I often utilise “quietly evocative” titles as a “way in” for listeners). This created a deliberately ambiguous and abstract canvas in which I have been able to draw on my own interpretation of the dark, brooding, ominous imagery conjured in my mind by Nightfires.

The work is for the most part an elongated, baleful melody which is continuously shadowed and shrouded by a highly energised, often angular, musical landscape. Shrill winds and unrelenting brass ostinatos underpin lopsided grooves and loops which eventually fall away to reveal a solo cello. Its frantic, breathless material is quickly subsumed and damaged by the return of the noisy, acrid brass and pungent, bitter strings.

The work has one brief moment of hiatus with cleansing, restrained string chords. All-too-quickly, these chords are smothered, and the work is hurled towards the climax where shrieking trumpets reprise their opening fanfares before propelling towards the work's end.

Tom Harrold

Performances 
7.4.16 City Halls, Glasgow: BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra / Ilan Volkov
3
Flute
3rd piccolo
3
Oboe
3
Clarinet
3rd bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
3
Percussion
4 tom-toms, 3 cowbells, anvil, tam-tam, bass drum, 2 bongos, suspended cymbal, hi-hats, 2 timbales, kick bass drum, rope drum, tubular bells, crotales, marimba
14
Violin
12
Violin II
10
Viola
8
Cello
6
Double bass
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