Programme Note

Parallels consists of two movements. The first movement is a brief scherzando which initially rises above piano only infrequently; the brass, however, interrupt with increasing persistence and quickly whip the music up into a frenzy. After a short pause, the second movement introduces a very different sound world, which is characterised by a slower pace of musical development and much starker textures, some of which are inspired by Japanese Gagaku. After a time, music from the first movement returns, and material from the two movements is superimposed in a variety of different ways. A sinuous alto flute solo provides a brief period of respite before the music rises to a climax which gives way to a brief – and extremely fast – coda.

‘Any young composer who finds himself at the opposite end of a programme from Walton’s First Symphony had better be good. Edward Nesbit – whose piece Parallels was commissioned by the LSO Panufnik Young Composer’s Scheme – is certainly that. Indeed the aggressive brass punctuations and nerve-wracking silences that helped point up the symmetry of his very accomplished diptych might have been designed to complement the Walton – or indeed Beethoven’s Fourth Piano Concerto – where silence is not just golden but potent, too. The real meat of Nesbit’s Parallels is communicated in keenly imagined and fertile woodwind writing with bassoons ripely to the fore and a harmonic interplay strongly redolent of Stravinsky. A number of poetic, even balletic, solos intensify that feeling. But Nesbit is his own man writing with virtuosic confidence and clarity. You can tell when an orchestra feels they have something worthwhile to play and the London Symphony Orchestra gave Nesbit and their first conductor of the evening, Clemens Schuldt, the full import of their concentration. Climaxes were bold and inevitable, string basses were for once not just underpinning, and – how often can you say this of a new piece – it was precisely as long as it needed to be.’ (Edward Seckerson, The Arts Desk, 30th November 2012)

‘Edward Nesbit’s Parallels and William Walton’s First Symphony both underwent extensive gestation periods. Walton’s work was initially performed as its first three movements by the LSO in December 1934 before reaching its full version a year later, while the first section of Nesbit’s piece came out in 2010 as part of the LSO Panufnik Young Composers Scheme before he added a second movement by invitation.

The idea of contrast is central to Parallels (2010-12) with lyrical themes punctuated by percussive chords. Both the movements are transparently and restrainedly orchestrated. Underlying Parallels is Japanese Gagaku, traditional music in which melody is always heard below the accompaniment. Nesbit has spent some time living in Japan and Parallels echoes some characteristics of Far Eastern music – plucked strings, wailing woodwinds and incisive brass chords used as rhythmic underpinning very much as a woodblock is used in a Korean court orchestra. Under Clemens Schuldt, winner of the Donatella Flick Competition in 2010, it received an outstandingly precise and confident performance.’ (Douglas Cooksey, Classical Source, 30th November 2012)

Year: 2011
Duration: 10′
Instrumentation: Orchestra (3(II=afl.III=picc).3.3(II=Ebcl.III=bcl).3(III=cbsn) – – perc(2): I: xyl(4oct)/5 T.B./B.D./susp.cymb II: mar(4 1/3oct)/glsp(3oct)/tenor drum – pno(=cel) – hp – strings)
Commission: Commissioned for the London Symphony Orchestra through the LSO Discovery Panufnik Young Composers Scheme, supported by the Helen Hamlyn Trust.


A recording of the premiere performance is commercially available here.


29th November 2012
London Symphony Orchestra, Clemens Schuldt (Conductor)
Barbican Hall