atria
This work was commissioned by the Belfast Music Society for their International Festival of Chamber Music in 2013, and was premiered by Paul Watkins (cello) and Huw Watkins (piano) on 21st February 2013.

atria is a set of five pieces lasting in total about 12 minutes. The three main pieces (i, iii, v) progressively expand in scale, growing from the one-minute opening piece to the final, five-minute scena; this dramatic curve echoes that of my first major piano work, Das Leonora Notenbuch (1988), each of whose pieces expands from the scale of the previous. This formal preoccupation is hiding within in the title atria, or 'hallways', intended to convey that each piece forms an entry-point to the next, as if the listener were moving further into a building of progressively larger chambers. The progress is, however, a zig-zag, for between the three main duo pieces are two shorter interludes (ii and iv); these are less exactly prescribed in notation, and explore an expanded cello sound-world not explored in the main pieces. Use of brief experimental interludes among main pieces was also a feature of my work, Sound Carvings From The Bell Foundry for brass quintet (2006).

These interludes include references to the three main pieces, out of context as if in a dream version; more importantly, though, they are about conjuring one or two brief but static soundscapes, while pieces i, iii and v are evolving dramas musical journeys.

c Piers Hellawell 2011