David Knotts - Composer, Pianist, Conductor

Composer, Pianist, Conductor



Instrumentation: Oboe, Oboe d'Amore and Cor Anglais

Duration: 15 mins

First Performance:

Commissioned By: Pipers 3 for the 2011 St Magnus International Festival with funds from Robert Clark & Susan Costello

I Apricot Tree
II Entwined
III In the Shadows
IV Seascape

When I began to think about writing music for three double-reed instruments, I was drawn to the music of the Armenian duduk, the ancient ancestor of the modern oboe. The duduk is made from the wood of the highly-prized apricot tree and traditional Armenian songs and dances which feature the instrument are both encrusted with ornamentation and soulful and lamenting in character. Both of these characteristics can be heard in Tsirana.

The folk song Tsirani Tsar (Apricot Tree) was collected by the Armenian composer and musicologist, Komitas Vardapet and lines from the song inspired each of the four movements of Tsirana.

The first movement is bold and proclaiming in character, celebrating the sound-giving tree. This is followed by a virtuosic moto perpetuo, with the three instruments entwined together. In the solemn third movement, each player ‘sings’ alone in the shadow of the tree. The dramatic finale draws on the music of the previous three movements: the wind howls and the music rushes headlong into the tempestuous sea. This work was commissioned by Robert Clark and Susan Costello and premiered as part of the 2011 St Magnus International Festival.

Apricot tree, do not bear fruit, vay!
Don’t let your branches entwine, vay!
Every time I walk in your shadow,
My pain and suffering also entwine!
Give me, o give me back the joy of my heart,
Which, like the wind, has drowned into the sea.
May this terrible year end and never come back!
The pain has plunged me into the black abyss!
How the wind howls,
Drowning the laughter of my heart into the sea.