Programme Notes – Straitjacket (2002) for tuba and piano

In this ten-minute piece I have attempted to illustrate a Kafkaesque sense of claustrophobia and paranoia. The mood is predominantly dark, often violent, and at times grotesque. The tuba and piano should play as if locked together in a deadly embrace – indeed the piano part is limited to one note at a time in the register of the tuba. Towards the end of the work a brief cadenza for the tuba gives a hope of liberation, but this is denied by a cruel tolling in the depths of the piano that brings the piece to a bleak conclusion.

‘Straitjacket’ was commissioned by and is dedicated to James Gourlay to whom I am eternally grateful for suggesting that the work should be transposed down a tone, thus blackening the mood still further.