Instrumentation: Percussion 1 (bells, xylophone), Percussion 2 (3-octave vibraphone), Percussion 3 (4.3-octave marimba*), Percussion 4 (4.3-octave marimba*, bass drum), Percussion 5 (tam-tam, snare drum, suspended cymbal), Percussion 6 (4 concert toms, suspended cymbal, Percussion 7 (4 timpani) *Percussion 3 & 4 may perform on the same Marimba.
Featuring a balanced ensemble of keyboard and battery percussion, Mercury Rising is, in essence, a double fugue that gives all players the opportunity to shine. After a brief anticipatory introduction, the tempo picks up and the keyboard percussion introduces the primary fugue theme (or subject), with entries by the marimba, the xylophone, and then the vibraphone. The battery joins the excitement before taking over the fugue subject, featuring the snare drum and concert toms. By the time the timpani takes over the subject, all members of the ensemble have entered leading to a climactic explosion at m. 72. After a brief developmental 3/4 section, in which fragments of the fugue subject are strewn about the ensemble, intensity continues to build to the end of the piece, as the theme appears in its loudest and fastest presentation yet.