Programme Notes – A Better Place

‘A Better Place’ was written in the shadow of the tragically premature death of a close colleague, Mark Ray, the Head of Keyboard at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Rather than write something dark and funereal, I felt it more appropriate to celebrate Mark’s life and that of another that was taken away all too early: Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The work is tranquil and whimsical in spirit, and is in one movement lasting about seven minutes. It opens with Mozart’s favourite Alberti bass on the piano and a naïve melody at the top of the oboe’s register. There are four sections that loosely correspond with the form of a sonatina. At the end the opening material returns; and the little codetta signs off with a tribute to two favourite works: Mozart’s Clarinet quintet and Stravinsky’s octet. The role of the piano in this group is that of a wind instrument with an exceptionally wide range: it only plays one note at a time.