The Phoenix is a one movement orchestral composition scored for 3 flutes (flute 3 doubles piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, three bassoons, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 2 trombones, bass trombone, tuba, percussion, harp, and strings. The duration of the work is approximately 7 minutes.
This composition is monomotivic, with the original four note idea appearing in the English horn. An ascending minor third initiates the motive, followed by an ascending minor second and a descending major second (class set 4-2, interval vector 221100). Tonal centers in the work outline a tritone, shifting from E to B-flat and returning to E at the end. The work begins in a moderately slow tempo featuring the expansion of register from high to low. The first concrete melodic gesture occurs in the cellos followed by the English horn statement of the main idea. After the English horn presents this idea, the work erupts into the fast paced body. This section is developmental and focuses on maintaining a high energy level, with the rhythm and textures acting as the focal point of this energy. The fast section is punctuated by a five note rhythmic figure, which delineates the subsections and eventually expands in time to form the climax of the work, just before the recapitulation. The recapitulation is composed of mostly nonliteral material, with the exception of one section that occurs just after the return to the original, slower tempo. The idea of expanding range brings the work to its conclusion, although here the expansion occurs from the bottom of the orchestra to the top. The combination of the retrograde bookends, which gives the work a cyclic feel, coupled with the high energy central section that led to the title of the work.