Metropolitan Games

Metropolitan Games for piano duet (1967)

Metropolitan Games was completed in September 1967.

The form consists of two interlocking sets of four refrains (one set consists of quiet, widely spaced chords, and the other of more violent chordal canons interrupted by a more free and opulent middle section. All the harmony in the refrains is serially derived from the basic intervallic cell of perfect fifth plus major third.

The associative chain whereby the title was arrived at is very vague. Nevertheless, while writing it I had been listening to Jeux a lot and I was growing less and less enamoured of the West End. I was also connected to it and my home by the Metropolitan Line.

© 1968 Tim Souster

Note as it appears in programme at Keele 29.11.1976 (Bradshaw and Bennett):
Metropolitan Games was commissioned by Richard Rodney Bennett and Susan Bradshaw and premiered by them at a Machnachten Concert at the Wigmore Hall, London in 1968. The title refers to the London Transport line on which I used to travel, with daily decreasing enthusiasm to my job in the West End.
The piece is built mainly out of large chords (made manageable by the availability in this medium of about twenty fingers) which are built up out of the superimposed intervals: perfect fifth, major second, perfect fifth etc.. The chords are now soft and sustained, now hectic and jagged. Eventually, more florid textures build up, but the chords (becoming clusters) reappear and the piece ends with an echo of the progression with which it began.

Note as it appears in Cambridge Festival programme (17.7.1985)
Metropolitan Games for piano duet (1967) was commissioned, and premiered, by Susan Bradshaw and Richard Rodney Bennett. On the one hand, the piece is ‘programmatic’, in that the title refers to the way in which travelling into the West End of London at that time (via the Metropolitan Line) was constantly disrupting my peace of mind. On the other hand, the music operates on an abstract level too and is concerned with harmonic and rhythmic schemes organised according to ‘expanded serial’ principles. The opening still chords with the repeated central A flat function as a kind of refrain in the music, alternating as they do initially with more frenetically rhythmic passages and then with a much more florid luxuriant middle section. The opening refrain returns at the very end of the piece, but much condensed. Four pivotal A flats are heard dying away at the very end of the piece.