Broken Symmetry was designed as a scherzo, but its structure is complex. Its first half consists of three scherzo sections and three ‘trios’ (after an introduction the first trio precedes the first scherzo). There is a frenetic centre to the work, and then the first half is recapitulated in reverse. But it is not a mirror image, as the symmetry is broken, and the scherzos and trios contract, collide and distort, becoming virtually unrecognisable in the process. The imagery is perhaps that of a machine going out of control, and when it has reached its fastest and most extreme, it collapses, and the mechanism very quickly runs down.
At the pre-concert talk for the first performance of Broken Symmetry, in the spring of 1992, I said that I had thought of the piece as perhaps the scherzo of a ‘mega-work’. This idea grew into my orchestral work Renewal, of which Broken Symmetry forms the third part.