Bright forms return

Voice and instrumental ensemble

For mezzo-soprano and string quartet

Text by Kathleen Raine from ‘The Oval Mirror’ published by Hamish Hamilton

Bright forms return was commissioned by the Cumbria Quartet, with financial assistance from Northern Arts. It was premiered by them with Elizabeth Lamb (mezzo) on 11 June 1980 at the historic church in Grasmere during the Lake District Festival, United Kingdom.

About the work

Bright forms return is in 4 movements:

I. Allegro molto con energia


III. Ritmico con energia


It was written while I was composer-in-residence for Northern Arts (UK) and is one of the first pieces I wrote that is concerned with landscape and sea-scape. I was living in Northumberland, on the moors north of Newcastle, very near the house where Kathleen Raine had spent her childhood.

When I was asked to write a piece for the Cumbria Quartet and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Lamb, Raine’s poetry was an obvious choice, as its northern imagery was very familiar to me.

Although the piece is designed as a single entity, the quartet falls into 4 clearly-defined sections in its setting of the 4 short poems. The vocal writing is relatively simple (rhythmically at least), and the writing for the quartet sometimes reflects the poetic imagery or mood, and is sometimes derived from the formal structure of the poems.


Buy or borrow the score and parts from SOUNZ.

Bright forms return — SOUNZ