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979-0-57036-542-5 Haven of Mysteries – Score Available at MusicRoom Buy now (£16.95)
979-0-57036-543-2 Haven of Mysteries – Parts Available at MusicRoom Buy now (£18.95)


1. Laying out

2. Reflections

3. Structures in stone

4. Labyrinth

As the movements' titles possibly suggest, the work reflects in four different ways the composer's life-long fascination for the architecture of medieval French cathedrals, several of which have an overall structure not unrelated to the natural harmonic series, with in their detail quite strong musical connotations, as six earlier works by the same composer have endeavoured to show. Each movement might be said to parallel a phase in the reconstruction of Chartres Cathedral after the terrible fire of 1194. In his superb book on the Cathedral, guide Malcolm Miller relates how the people of Chartres first of all retrieved the foundations, then after reflecting on how the Cathedral had looked before the fire, went in their thousands to the Berchères quarries to bring in huge quantities of stone, emotionally chanting en route. In the space of 29 years they reconstructed the building itself to its full, present-day magnificence, with the Labyrinth confirming and celebrating its completion.

Laying out presents the essential linear and harmonic material for the whole in the form of an 'instructive' dialogue, in antiphony between the viola and the upper and lower pairs of instruments. The music is predominantly modal, albeit chromatic, and speech rhythms abound.

In Reflections we have contemplations on the imagery of the stained-glass windows and carvings, as it were. The 'translucent' textures contain an element of drama, even conflict.

In Structures in Stone everything builds up vertically, with rich harmonies making powerful shapes and creating passages of light as well as shadow. We hear echoes of the chanting.

In Labyrinth, by contrast, we have woven chant-lines circling in ritualistic, celebratory fashion around the quintet, slowly moving towards an inner focal point, almost reached several times before final arrival. As with the rebuilding of the Cathedral, there are numerous recollections of past features.

Co-commissioned by The Radcliffe Trust, NMC Recordings, and Wigmore Hall, with the support of André Hoffmann, president of the Fondation Hoffmann, a Swiss grant-making foundation.


20 minutes

Carducci String Quartet plus cellist Guy Johnston, Wigmore Hall, London, 14th June 2015

2 Violin, 1 Viola, 2 Violoncello
Composition date


Bracing Change Carducci String Quartet and Guy Johnston, cello 19th May 2017


5 February 2016

Square Chapel, Halifax

Carducci String Quartet and Guy Johnston (cello)

14 June 2015 Wigmore Hall, London Carducci String Quartet plus cellist Guy Johnston