In Lines of Dazzling Light (1995)

Programme Note: John Buckley

In Lines of Dazzling Light for violin, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano was commissioned by Ensemble Contrasts, Vienna with financial assistance from the Arts Council of Ireland. The title is taken from a line of Sir Walter Scott and refers to the reflected rays of the sun. This image seemed appropriate for a piece, whose momentum is often determined by a sense of line, and which seeks to display some of the dazzling array of instrumental colour and technique inherent in the quintet.

The piece is in eight short movements:

  1. Quintet: Prestissimo - The rhythmic energy derives from the opening piano solo.
  2. Duo: (Violin and Clarinet) Energico Brillante - an elaborate and virtuosic contrapuntal duo.
  3. Trio: (Violin, Horn and Piano) Adagio sostenuto - is pervaded by an atmosphere of elegiac lyricism.
  4. Quintet: Misterioso lontano - Strong attacks on the piano set up lines of rippling movement from the other four instruments.
  5. Quartet: (Violin, Clarinet, Horn and Bassoon) Andante sostenuto - the opening horn theme is used as a ground bass.
  6. Quartet: (Clarinet, Horn, Bassoon and Piano) Allegro vigoroso - a rapid interplay of lines in particular between clarinet and bassoon.
  7. Duo: (Horn and Bassoon) Adagio cantabile - The restrained lines of the opening and closing frame a short energetic middle section.
  8. Quintet: Allegro scherzando - a perpetuum mobile created by the interlinking of instrumental lines.

In Lines of Dazzling Light is dedicated to the members of Ensemble Contrasts, Vienna and was first performed by them in Vienna in February 1995.