While writing this quintet Berkeley had in mind the paintings of John Craxton and Mark Rothko, and the way in which paint can vibrate as colours collide. The piece opens with the oboe intoning three notes around which all the music oscillates. At pivotal moments in the music this lachrymose motif imposes itself though in varied permutations. In the final bars the oboe has a seagull-like cry until, as though a switch is pulled, its life force is suddenly cut off.
Michael Berkeley (b.1948)