by Kenneth Hesketh

Uncoiling the River is a new work for piano and orchestra co-commissioned by BBC Radio 3 for the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and by the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, with support from the RVW Trust. It was premiered by Clare Hammond with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and conductor Martyn Brabbins on the 25 January 2019 at the Hoddinott Hall in Cardiff, and will be performed again by the RLPO in January 2020.

The title is both poetic and descriptive, outlining the formal plan the work follows; a ‘toccata’ figure is constantly bent and reconstituted, evolving through expansion and contraction alongside a number of strata that are juxtaposed or superimposed as the work unfolds.

Other representative works include Knotted Tongues, In Ictu Oculi and Inscription-Transformation.

Uncoiling the River is 24 minutes long. Click here to view the instrumentation.

“Time is the substance I am made of.
Time is a river which sweeps me along, but I am the river;
it is a tiger which destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire which consumes me, but I am the fire.”

Jorge Luis Borges, Labyrinths


Described by Tempo magazine as "a composer who both has something to say and the means to say it”, Kenneth Hesketh has received numerous national and international commissions and has worked with leading conductors, ensembles and orchestras in the USA, Far East and Europe. His work has been described as “pure music, in possessing – because the notes seem to be creating their own harmonic and rhythmic forces and processes – a great freshness.” (Paul Griffiths).


Recorded by BIS, NMC, London Sinfonietta, Psappha and Prima Facie labels, the first NMC recording (released in 2013) was devoted to large ensemble and orchestral works, titled Wunderkammer(konzert)". A disc of Hesketh's piano music performed by pianist Clare Hammond was released by BIS in 2016 to critical acclaim.  Prima Facie have also recently released a chamber music disc performed by the Continuum Ensemble. Hesketh was Composer in the House (RPS/ PRS) with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra (2007-2009). He has been represented at festivals from London (Proms) to the USA (Tanglewood/Bowdoin) to China (Beijing Modern Music Festival).


Hesketh’s interest in the bizarre and eerie on celluloid has led to three scores for the medium, including ‘a darting, phantastical score’ (Ivan Hewitt) for ‘Hände’, premiered by pianist Clare Hammond. A score for the film ‘Ein Lichtspiel, Schwarz-weiss-grau’ (1930) by the Hungarian László Moholy-Nagy was deemed "a refreshingly unique, novel and hugely intelligent approach to the mechanical in music" (Edward Lewis) whilst his score for Theatre of Attractions "inhabits a more darkly-hued sound-world. Obsessive rhythms are combined with immense elemental energy that spills over into unbridled aggression and a manic sense of propulsion." (Christopher Thomas).


“Hesketh's music is beautiful, complex and restless ... His response to musical form is particularly remarkable ....” AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE

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Acclaimed as a pianist of “amazing power and panache” (The Telegraph), Clare Hammond is recognised for the virtuosity and authority of her performances and has developed a “reputation for brilliantly imaginative concert programmes” (BBC Music Magazine, ‘Rising Star’). She recently won the Royal Philharmonic Society's 'Young Artist Award', in recognition of outstanding achievements in 2015. Highlights in 2016 included a performance at the Royal Festival Hall with the Philharmonia, and a concerto tour of Poland, with a newly discovered work by Josef Myslivecek, a mentor of Mozart. Over the autumn, Clare curated three concerts for the BBC at the Belfast International Arts Festival, which were broadcast in November as part of the BBC Radio 3 Lunchtime Concerts series.

Future projects include the premiere of Edwin Roxburgh’s Concerto for Piano and Winds with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and world premiere recordings of two keyboard concertos by Myslivecek with the Swedish Chamber Orchestra and conductor Nicholas McGegan for BIS Records.

Clare’s most recent disc for BIS, of music by Ken Hesketh, has been widely praised with the Observer describing her as a “star interpreter of contemporary music”. Her previous release, ‘Etude’, received unanimous critical acclaim for its “unfaltering bravura and conviction” (Gramophone) while the BBC Music Magazine stated that “this array of wizardry is not for the faint hearted”. ‘Etude’, and Clare’s previous disc of music by Andrzej and Roxanna Panufnik, ‘Reflections’, have been featured on BBC Radio 3’s ‘In Tune’ and ‘CD Review’, and on radio in Switzerland, Sweden, the Netherlands, the US and Canada.

Clare completed a BA at Cambridge University, where she obtained a double first in music, and undertook doctoral study with Ronan O’Hora at the Guildhall School of Music & Drama and with Professor Rhian Samuel at City University London.

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Audio demos

All works by Kenneth Hesketh:

At God seeded summer's end (Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra).

Wunderkammer(konzert), m.3 (Ensemble 10/10 with Clark Rundell).

Inscription-Transformation (Goettinger Symphonie Orchestra, Christoph-Mathias Mueller).

Forms Entangled (Psappha Ensemble).

Horae (pro clara), m.2 (Clare Hammond).