The composer has told us that 'Lento' owes much to the prelude to 'Parsifal' that was played in the same concert as its premiere in 1991. Its meditative character carries over to this work as well, although its minimalist style is quite different. One main theme, based on slow moving chordal progressions, and a secondary but similar theme, are developed in an atmosphere of consecration and reflection, an arch of sound that begins in the srtings and then reaches a crescendo as the brass section, then the woodwind, make their contribution. Note especially the beautiful effect of a solo cor anglais, playing against a string background, as the work moves towards its calm conclusion.
Skempton shows how much sheer delight can be provided by very simple procedures and everyday chords, uplifting the spirit in times of worry and agitation in a busy world.