Bright Forms Return written in 1980 while I was composer-in-residence for Northern Arts (UK), is one of the first pieces I wrote that is concerned with landscape (and sea-scape). I was living in Northumberland, on the moors north of Newcastle, very near the house where Kathleen Raine had spent her childhood. When I was asked to write a piece for the Cumbria Quartet and mezzo-soprano Elizabeth Lamb, Raine’s poetry was an obvious choice, as its northern imagery was very familiar to me.
Although the piece is designed as a single entity, the quartet falls into four clearly-defined sections in its setting of the four short poems. The vocal writing is relatively simple (rhythmically at least), and the writing for the quartet sometimes reflects the poetic imagery or mood, and is sometimes derived from the formal structure of the poems. The text, which comes from The Oval Mirror published by Hamish Hamilton, is used with the kind permission of the author and her publishers.