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Scored for chamber orchestra and dating from 1999; this work is built on MacMillan's shorter Piano Sonata of 1985. That work was composed during a bitter Ayrshire winter: the composer recalls the barren trees and hard frozen ground of a landscape that was empty and silent but for the harsh; hollow cry from the rookeries. Throughout the three movements the music conveys a mood of elegy; despair and desolation. In Symphony no 2 the original has been 'opened up' to new forms of expansion; sometimes according to colouristic potential; at other times to dramatic or even originally unseen potential. The first movement is short and preparatory to the more extended second movement. The third movement is a brief postlude; almost an afterthought to what has been heard; during which some of the principal memories of the earlier movements are stated over some quotations from Wagner's Tristan und Isolde.