Swayne’s Canon is a piece of pastiche baroque silliness, written in 2003 in a fit of semi-hysteria after hearing one performance too many of Mr. Pachelbel’s evergreen lollipopular version. It consists of eighteen statements of a four-bar ground bass, and is scored for three violins and basso continuo. The bass is heard first on its own, then in a simple version with accompanying chords on the violins. In statements three to twelve of the ground, the violins add decorative canons, passing them around amongst each other and becoming bolder and wilder. At statement thirteen they come together together briefly for a climactic (and most unbaroque) version in octaves; then they separate again and fade to the end, repeating the opening four statements of the ground in reverse order (and with a brief silent interruption) and ending – as the piece began – with the four-note ground bass on its own.
Giles Swayne 2008