I started work on a guitar concerto for Craig Ogden https://craigogden.com/ just before lockdown. I first got to know Craig’s playing on his fantastic recording of Tippett’s The Blue Guitar and was delighted to have the opportunity to write something for him. I have always felt that guitar players have a wonderful openness in their approach and are happy to embracing music in all styles and genres with freshness and enthusiasm. I’d really enjoyed working on Grimm Tales with Craig in 2015 and had been mulling over the idea of a guitar concerto since then.
I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the last ten years working on concertos. My first foray into the form was a violin concerto for friend and colleague, Simon Blendis. https://www.simonblendis.com/ I’d known Simon since university days and our collaborations had continued with his work as violinist for the Schubert Ensemble who had commissioned so much new music during their time together. https://www.schubertensemble.com/commissions There was something about the dynamic of the concerto which I felt particularly drawn to, the drama of pitting soloist against a larger ensemble but also, an opportunity for chamber-like textures and music making. Writing music which you feel captures the personality of a player as always an inspiring and energising starting point, something bespoke rather than off-the-peg. https://www.davidknotts.co.uk/music/from-crystal-heavns-above-for-violin-and-chamber-orchestra/
The concerto for Simon From Crystal Heav’ns Above was followed by a commission from the Presteigne festival for a piano concerto for Tom Poster. https://www.tomposter.co.uk/ Tom wears his virtuosity with great warmth and ease and I was planning something rather sunny and extrovert. However, while I was working on the concerto, my mother-in-law passed away and my nephew George was born. The introspective concerto which emerged is haunted by life’s beginnings and endings: Laments and Lullabies begins with a softly undulating lullaby and concludes with a fantasia on the Scottish lament, The Flowres of the Forrest in memory of Violet Nicolson. https://www.davidknotts.co.uk/music/laments-and-lullabies/
The oboe concerto which followed embraces the sunshine, both literally and metaphorically: while I was writing it, I’d spent time in both Rome and Crete. Both places have such strong links with antiquity and the Ancient world and this is reflected in this piece. The Rider from Artemision was commissioned by Magdalene College School in Oxford for Thomas Edmiston, a fantastic young oboist and the image of a fearless youth riding a horse at full pelt which is captured in an ancient bronze sculpture stood as a emblem for this concerto. https://www.davidknotts.co.uk/music/the-rider-from-artemision-a-concerto-for-oboe-chamber-orchestra/
The Alabaster Chambers for guitar and orchestra will be premiered by Craig Ogden with the BBC Concert orchestra in March