String Sextet ‘Trains of Thought’, 1987, 12'
String Sextet ‘Trains of Thought’ was commissioned by the Park Lane Group, and the inspiration for writing it came from Panufnik’s memories of his train journeys.
The nature of the work is intended to reflect the unchanging clatter of the wheels of the train, which is why the composer maintains a continuous staccato of nearly all instruments throughout the Sextet, preserving the same tempo and rhythmic pulse. This creates a sensation of monotony, compensated by the variety of expressive hues. Panufnik uses dry and rough notes (molto secco, sul ponticello), gentle, mellifluous and sweet sounds (dolce, cantabile, dolcissimo), as well as humorous and energetic sounds (scherzando, energico, intenso). In the finale the music gradually die out, trailing away like those of a departing train. The onomatopoeic rhythmic ostinato uses a note cell (E-F-B) constantly moving in the various voices and present both in the harmonic and in the melodic layer of the work.
The premiere took place on 21 February 1988 in London and featured the Park Lane String Sextet.