It is very important to you, isn't it, how your music is presented?
Yes, it is but it often has to do with the players relationship to the music. It's quite interesting because one of the most remarkable performances I've had was with the Karel Szymanowski Quartet, when they premiered What the Whaleship Saw - I don't know if you were at that concert...
Yes, I was...
There was a strong presence of complete unity with the music but on that occasion we didn't have any lighting or stage direction of any kind. When I was writing that piece in the Hebrides , I was working through the night by a window. It was totally black outside. I was right on the sand dunes, you couldn't actually see the sea at all, but could see the grass moving slightly. I looked up and the moon just revealed itself in the middle of a cloud. There I was writing this piece about survivors, adrift on the ocean, and I had this vision. It was the most haunting thing, and that visual image from a different time absolutely affected what I wrote.
Whenever I've done something visual with my music it has always brought a very different focus to the work. It was hugely effective with the violin concerto, Venus Blazing , which we will be touring with the Ernst Kovacic and Britten Sinfonia this year. There is a great emphasis on the theatrical aspect of the performance, directed by theatre director Lou Stein and with lighting by designer Jeff Ravitz and, I also appear in the piece.
Theatricalizing concert works, if you like, I think that has to come from how you think about putting the music together rather than someone else coming from outside and putting their interpretation on it. When all the elements are right it can be wonderful.