Scored for full orchestral forces and constructed using precomposed chance methods, Lento is one of Skempton’s largest, and best known works. Hypnotic, enigmatic and so simple, it has achieved cult-like status.
James Humberstone describes the piece well here:
Skempton feels no need to introduce systems of development, nor does he endlessly repeat the limited amount of material he uses. The opening theme is used four times, three times quietly in the strings, and once in a grand tutti at f. There are five other sections which all seem to relate to the opening section but actually were composed as separate chorales and then intuitively put together by the composer. The resulting effect is of a static harmony, but one that draws the listener inside it by means of diverse and careful scoring, sensitive dynamics and solid structure. This makes one feel that although the piece never actually moves from A to B that one actually travelled a long way to A, stayed there for some time, and that was enough.
Another gentle reminder that the deadline for YCPCW has been extended to the 17th June, so head over to the Creative Weekend page, and fill in that form!