Elaine Agnew


Type of Work: Ensemble
Instrumentation: Cello and piano
Length: 10 minutes
Commissioned by: Belfast Music Society
Premiere: 16 April 1994, Elmwood Hall, Belfast.
Robert Cohen and Elizabeth Burley


Brilliant phrases on piano and strong cello lines, dominated by a distinctive four-note motif, create a dramatic opening to this piece.  After the explosive opening, a slow version emerges on cello.  The original drama returns until the slow cello lines launch a contemplative sequence which unfolds with mounting tension.  The mood quietens once more until the opening motto emerges over busily repeated piano phrases and the music concludes with an impassioned coda.

Philip’s Peace was commissioned by the Belfast Music Society in 1994 and premiered by Robert Cohen and Elizabeth Burley.  It is dedicated to my nephew Philip Gerard Clements who was born on the day I received the commission and has been performed throughout Ireland, Romania and Latvia.  In 1995, Philip’s Peace won the countess of Markievicz Gold Medal Competition for Young Composers and 1996 won the RTE Musician of the Future Composition Prize.

Ian Wilson, Newsletter:

“It is always encouraging when a new work captures the attention and imagination as much, if not more than the rest of the programme.  This was the case in Saturday night’s Elmwood Hall recital by cellist Robert Cohen and pianist Elizabeth Burley, when they gave the first performance of Philip’s Peace, a specially-commissioned work by the Arts Council from Elaine Agnew, one of Ulster’s younger and busier composers, and a very promising talent.  This was a very rewarding piece with an arresting opening and a beautifully contemplative centre.  Strong rhythmic ideas were contrasted with memorable melodic ones and it was a nice touch that Robert Cohen announced just before playing the work that he had enjoyed working on it; it was certainly a piece I wanted to hear immediately again.”