The composer about the composition: I wrote An Intake of breath in January 1999 in response to a request from Harriet Longman to add a contribute to the limited saw repertoire. A few years ago, in an interview with Nathalie Wheen on Radio 3, I heard the American composer, John Adams, speaking of some of the ethnic music he listens to. He mentioned the Syrian musician Abed Azrié. I purchased two CDs: "Aromates" and "Suerté", and felt the desire to write something for the saw which was similar to his music, but the difficulties in writing for the saw was in finding a rhythmic language. The saw glides from pitch to pitch. Only notes that are played with the drawing of the bow can have any great degree of rhythmic attack. If the piece I was to write should have any rhythmic punch it would have to receive it from another instrument. The quicker pulses would be defined by a violin. The music of Abed Azrié became a good starting point, although the work develops a style very much of it's own. The work can be seen in terms of a sonata structure. The addition of words at the end was the bringing together of two ideas. I had intended to set Jennifer Thorn's poem separately, but the decision to use a violin accompaniment brought on the decision to conclude this piece with her poem. There is a meditative introduction which is followed by an allegro first movement. Then a recitative-like bridge passage, which exploits the use of tapping the sounds out of the saw (with a medium hard mellet), introduces a slow movement aria, which uses pizzicato violin is a fantasia of changing moods culminating in a passage which the players in this performance described as "the lullaby". This leads to the epilogue which introduces the voice (poem). A threnody develops and brings the music to a conclusion.
Aufnahme der Uraufführung am 15.4.2000 St. Botolph's Church, Iken Suffolk, UK