All the musical ideas from this
quintet derive from the composer's setting of Ariel's song "Full Fathom
Five" from The Tempest. The piece begins with a
brief hint of the melody on solo horn and first trumpet, which leads to
a tightly argued, slightly jazzy Allegro in seven-eight time. The
second movement is more serious, and develops the song melody and the
implication of its lyric, with its images of death, drowning and the
tolling of lugubrious bells. The finale, which uses small elements of
the melody both as ostinati and thematic material, is developed in
rondo form, climaxing with a broad chorale-like treatment of the tune.
The work was written for and is
dedicated to the Fine Arts Brass Ensemble, who commissioned the work
and gave its first performance at the Malvern Festival in May 1987.