Ghost Train was composed in 2002 and featured on the Chandos Records release 'Walking the wild Rhondda.
The work derives its material from a Heneghan & Lawson song of the same name written around the mid 80s.
A metaphorical train approaches from afar, and eventually engulfs the listener. As it disappears into the distance we see the train from the other end. You might imagine, as it fades away, that someone else in that far distance is now awaiting the arrival of this never-ending ghost train.
Ghost Train is a set of six continuous variations. The work starts with a simple theme for clarinets, which serves as a short introduction. The music carries straight on into variation 1, which provides the harmonic basis for variations 3, 5 and 6. Variation 2 is a melodic inversion variation 5. Variations 4 and 5 are harmonic and melodic retrogrades of variations 2 and 3. The final variation is a retrograde of variation 1.
The opening clarinet theme also returns twice in much developed form prior to variations 3 and 5. It is also heard, as one might expect, at the very end, but as this theme is itself a palindrome, the integrity of the retrograde is maintained to the very end.
The consequence of all this is that there are four themes, anyone of which could be called the 'main' theme.
Ghost Train is an ingenious and imaginative construct, a nice twist on the old idea of the passing procession: the (metaphorical) express advances and recedes in a flow of continuous variations, but there is a catchy clarinet tune that is subjected to suitable expansions, inversions, then (of course) retrogrades: there is also a palindrome in there somewhere!
(Piers Burton-Page - International Record Review)
I would be pleased to hear from anyone interested in giving the first performance of this work. Perusal scores and demo CD available on request.
Duration: 11 mins
3 flutes (3 doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, cor anglais, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contrabassoon.
4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba.
Timpani, 3 percussion players, piano/celesta, harp