Jonathan Pitkin

MESH for orchestra (2007-8)

Duration: 11.5 mins
Instrumentation: 2222.4231.perc.hp.strings
Click here to see the SCORE.

Mesh draws its title from a harmonic idea which underlies the music throughout: two identical chords (augmented triads) positioned a semitone apart, so that they lock together to create a clashing but resonant effect. Much of the piece’s melodic material – introduced in its simplest form by unaccompanied flute, then clarinets, over the course of the first minute or so – plays upon the patterns of intervals this creates, constantly darting between the pitches of the two chords.

The music which follows sees these figures being subjected to successive waves of development, in which increases of speed, thickening of harmony and orchestration, and use of ever more extreme registers create a strong sense of forward movement. Whilst at first this happens in rather stop-start fashion, as if the music is repeatedly spinning out of control and needing to be reset again, by the end of the piece each of these accumulations has come to lead directly into another, as the music acquires ever more momentum, driving it towards its conclusion.

Mesh was commissioned by the Meadows Chamber Orchestra, who gave the première at the Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, in March 2008.

Audio extracts:

(Performers: Royal College of Music Sinfonietta / Peter Stark)