Taklamakán

Tone poem for orchestra

Incantation (Desert Landscape) — Countdown/Voyage/Landing —
Exploration (Mars Rover Fugue) — Vision 1: Gardens —
Vision 2: Romance — Vision 3: Destruction — Epilogue

Taklamakán, which means “You go in, you don’t come out,” is the name of the great central Asian desert in Xinjiang (Sinkiang or Chinese Turkestan, north of Tibet). Oasis-cities, many now half-buried in the sand, once lined the fabled “Silk Road” caravan routes along the mountain perimeters of the desert. Throughout central Asia, archaeologists have painstakingly recovered the remains of “lost” civilisations, their languages and ways of life; sadly, many artifacts have been plundered or destroyed in recent wars, not only in central Asia but in Europe, where “rescued” art was bombed. The exploration of other planets arouses in us similar feelings of mystery: the wonder of discovery, along with intimations of the impermanence of natural conditions which might foster life, as well as the fragility inherent in both the means and the results of discovery.

Audio excerpt: transition to Vision 1