A Cold Spring falls into three movements although these are played almost without a break. The first movement is fast-moving and features an exuberant duet for two clarinets. The second is a mini concerto for solo horn accompanied by the ensemble. More nocturnal in character, a repetitive rocking rhythm lends it a feel of a lullaby. The third movement opens with an energetic outburst for the whole group. Solos and duets are juxtaposed with the combined ensemble to create an impression of stark contrast.
A Cold Spring was premiered by BCMG conducted by Oliver Knussen at the Aldeburgh Festival on 20 June 2009.