David Knotts - Composer, Pianist, Conductor

Composer, Pianist, Conductor

Laments and Lullabies


Instrumentation: Solo piano, 2 horns, 2 oboes and strings

Duration: 22

First Performance: Tom Poster (piano) with the Prestiegne Festival Orchestra conducted by George Vass, September 2016

Commissioned By: 2016 Presteigne Festival

Laments and Lullabies - for piano and chamber orchestra

I Allegretto

II Grave – Alla marcia

III Lento (The Flowres of the Forrest)

This concerto was shaped by two very personal events: the death of my mother-in law in 2014 and the birth of my first nephew at the start of 2015. The delicate fragility of life’s endings and beginnings left its mark on much of the music in this piece. Alongside the lament, a passionate expression of grief and sorrow, the poignancy of the lullaby took on a special significance – music with the power to rock those we love softly and gently to sleep.

The opening movement is prefaced by a quote from the text of an aria from Bach’s Easter Oratorio (Sanfte soll mein Todeskummer/Nur ein Schlummer…Gentle should be the sorrow of my death/only a slumber). The opening music suggests this gentle slumber and features a decorated piano line supported by an undulating string accompaniment. The oboe and cor anglais introduce a descending three-note lamenting motif which the piano explores in the sombre introduction to the second movement. A nightmarish death-march ensues inspired by Georg Trakl’s poem Im Osten which describes the rage of the people as the ‘wild organ music of winter storms.’ The final movement is both a lullaby and a lament based on the early Scottish lament ‘The Flowres of the Forrest.’:

I've heard the lilting, at the yowe-milking,
Lassies a-lilting before dawn o' day;
But now they are moaning on ilka green loaning;
"The Flowers of the Forest are a' wede away".

Laments and Lullabies is dedicated to the memory of Violet Nicoslon.