I found these extraordinary pictures of the Swiss alps: the imposing Matterhorn against a dark-blue background, a sweeping valley with steep sides overlooking a far-off town, sunlight playing on the bright folds of the mountainside, a solitary cross on a lonely peak, a scene bathed in blue and white, a hut perched precariously on the edge of a cliff: how inspiring are nature's great creations! I had something like this in mind when I wrote the first movement of my second sonata: the grandeur of the opening repeated octaves in Lydian mode, the icy counterpoint at 0:12, the precarious tension of the soft melody at 1:12, and the majestic chords at 2:49. My penchant for harsh dissonance building into broad gestures, ebbing and flowing with brooding tremolos, seemed to match the darkness of the blue sky and the unforgiving white chill of the snow.
It's been a year of compositional adventures! In the piano piece Bells I revisited the powerful possibilities of triadic harmony, and in that sense wrote a more tonal creation than usual. Paying homage to Sibelius (born 150 years ago), I tried to imagine how the serenity of the fifth symphony could be reproduced on the solo piano.
A completely new direction for me is the work Moving Pictures for piano and film. I made the films myself from inspirational scenes in the Scottish countryside, and then composed music to fit.
But perhaps the most exciting project was the finale to the Bari Sax Sonata. Here I found myself engaged in a new compositional process. Whereas normally my compositions grow out of piano improvisations, I allowed this piece to float around in my head for several weeks, relying only on a tiny sketchbook to record ideas. By the time I brought it to the instrument, it was mostly complete. New music written, new ground covered in 2015. May the coming years be full of growth too!