Jonny Greenwood is probably best known as the solo guitarist and keyboard player of the British alt-rock band Radiohead, founded in 1985. He has also written orchestral works, including film scores.
Water was written to a commission from the Australian Chamber Orchestra in 2014. It was inspired by a poem of the same title by Philip Larkin (1922–1985), particularly its concluding image of a glass of water where rays of light from various directions combine endlessly.
Those looking out for rock influences in this music may be disappointed. There are a few moments of strong rhythmic pulse, but the dominant sound is that of a lucid, prism-like glimmer, where musical figures are repeated often in a minimalist, slowly shifting and evolving tapestry, at times coalescing into almost Ligeti-like sound fields or falling into line with a dynamic rhythm. The strings provide a multi-layered shimmer, punctuated by several solo violin lines and coloured by the flutes and keyboards and the tanpuri drone. The work consists of five sections played without a break, presenting contrasting aspects and tracing a dynamic overall form but at the same time, on a more general level, reflecting the images prompted by the poem that inspired the work.
Shortened from Kimmo Korhonen's work presentation
Translation: Jaakko Mäntyjärvi