Gennadi Rozhdestvensky asked me for this piece in 1986, but it was a while before I could think how to go about it. He wanted a colourful theatrical piece based on paintings (and poems) which he had picked out of a small book published by the Tate Gallery. There was to be a speaking part (he had himself in mind for this) and as strange an ensemble as possible. A rare slide trumpet was included, because he had seen one in a London shop and the idea had made him laugh. There was to be a choir of young girls (as depicted in one of the paintings) and an amplified descant recorder. Much of this was decided in the course of a long evening in an overpriced Italian restaurant in Covent Garden…Desire was begun in 1987 and finished in 1991. It is scored for speaker, women’s chorus, descant recorder, trumpet, slide trumpet, alto saxophone, harp, percussion, three violas and a double bass. Naturally, it is dedicated to Gennadi Rozhdestvensky.
Thus the stage was set for BCMG’s latest Sound Investment commission, a collage-symphony of Tate Gallery paintings, poetry and a nervily resourceful score. The result was enthralling; unsettling, magical and brilliantly delivered by Elder and his cohorts.
The Birmingham Post
First performed by BCMG conducted by Mark Elder at the Adrian Boult Hall, Birmingham on 26 January 1997.