Music in the Glen draws upon portions of an Irish fiddle reel of the same name and the opening gesture of Pierre Boulez's Sur Incises, thus reflecting Gompper's interest in combining abstract tonal relationships (here derived from the Boulez) and music that is familiar (the reel). A slow introduction gives over to the two principal sections of the piece; the work is rounded off by a coda.
At first blush the audible division of the composition into four sections suggests an episodic design. And yet such a reading misses the stunning subtext predicated upon what at times are rather subtle interconnective threads that shoot through each section. Perhaps a better metaphor exists: the raw material of the piece--based on the morphing together of linear fragments from the folk tune and the Boulez-inspired verticality--represent dual light sources emitted at the head of the work that simultaneously pass through prisms variously located in the introduction such that the incident beams are refracted in the succeeding principal sections; the process is reversed in the coda where all events are refocused into an extremely intense singly directed ray of light.