Skip to main content
Toggle menu

In Performance: Five Distances for Five Instruments by Sir Harrison Birtwistle

This wind quintet written by Sir Harrison Birtwistle in 1993 is performed here by five principal members of the London Sinfonietta. 

In his introduction to the piece, Sir Harrison Birtwistle writes "It seems that a cheerful and lively argument is going on among the instruments in this wind quintet. The horn and the bassoon contend while the other three players offer commentary, the flute, oboe and clarinet twittering together constantly together. After about seven minutes, there is a pause (with short interruptions) – but soon the music moves on again, accelerating until it reaches the close, exhausted and slow, where it can only repeat the same motifs. Once again, this is instrumental musical theatre."

Performance of Five Distances for Five Instruments (1993) from our In Portrait: Harrison Birtwistle concert on 24 May 2012. Filmed live at Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre. 
Recording of performance supported by London Sinfonietta Entrepreneur Robert McFarland.

In this interview Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Tom Service discuss his 1993 work Five Distances for Five Instruments. The talk features musical examples performed by London Sinfonietta players.

This interview was recorded on 24 March 2012 as part of our In Portrait: Harrison Birtwistle concert.  

Subscribe to our YouTube channel

Sign up to our mailing list

Follow us on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter

Support our work

If you are enjoying our content on the London Sinfonietta channel, please do consider donating at whatever level you can afford to support our work and musicians both now and in the future – in schools, on the concert platform and in the community. It might be the price of a coffee, or the cost of a ticket to one of our live events.

Text to donate:

Text NEWMUSIC 5 to 70450 to donate £5
Text NEWMUSIC 10 to 70450 to donate £10
Text NEWMUSIC 20 to 70450 to donate £20

Texts cost £5, £10 or £20 plus one standard rate message, and you’ll be opting in to hear more about our work and fundraising via telephone and SMS. If you’d like to give but do not wish to receive marketing communications, text NEWMUSICNOINFO 5, 10 or 20 to 70450.