Commissioned by the Grainger Quartet for its inaugural series of concerts in October 2006. The commission was generously funded by Pamela Pearce and Wally Patterson.
First performance by the Grainger Quartet, Vebrugghen Hall, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, Sydney, 2005
Because I knew from the outset that the first notes of this piece would also be the first notes played in public by the Grainger Quartet, I tried to give the opening gesture an air of mystery. So the piece starts in silence, each player’s part having a rest with a pause on it. I was imagining bows held at the ready just a little longer than normal. When they finally move, they produce a chord that emerges very slowly from that initial silence, and the sound of the quartet is born.
Thereafter, the piece consists of three celebratory dances, the first of which takes a little while to get going, the others starting up rather abruptly. The specific dances mentioned in the title might suggest that I was following stylistic templates. But the truth is that these are not authentic dances. ‘Reel’, ‘fling’ and ‘galliard’ are simply the closest I could come to finding reasonably accurate labels for the music I was already imagining.
Andrew Ford's A Reel, a Fling and a Ghostly Galliard was a perfect opener. His writing for strings is confident and even comforting but what stood out, for me, was the deft sense of drama. The music is the story, and a thrilling one it is - full of character and a good dose of suspense. This is a really useful piece for the new ensemble.
Harriet Cunningham, The Sydney Morning Herald
Since A Reel, a Fling and a Ghostly Galliard was to be the first piece played in public by the [Grainger Quartet], Ford wanted to give the opening flourishes an air of mystery, and he succeeded. The rest of this terse work was an inventive, attractive mix of complex textures and vibrant rhythms, and the quartet's brilliantly sustained, slightly abrasive harmonics in the ghostly galliard brought the piece to a haunting, unsettling close.
Murray Black, The Australian
A fluid construct, it lived up to its [title] . . . and communicated a brand of fretful frivolity, the dancing restrained from outright abandonment but with a warm suggestiveness that sustained the pervading atmosphere of celebration.
Clive O’Connell, The Age