David Knotts On such a night as this is! (2007)

For violin, viola, cello, double bass and piano

12 minutes

 

I - Miss Roberta Paul’s Boat Song

 

II – Night Herding Song

 

III – “Don’t Bring Gobhlachans into the House!”

 

Given the fishy nature of Schubert’s Trout quintet and the fact that two members of the Schubert Ensemble work with animals (Peter with bees and Douglas with cattle) I was keen to write something inspired by animals. Taking my cue from the beautiful set of song variations at the heart of Schubert’s quintet, each movement in this work is a based on a different song.

 

In my hunt for a song about bees, I came across a boat song recorded by Miss Roberta Paul in Georgia, America 1926. It’s a hypnotic litany song about losing Mama’s ring and rowing a bee:

 

I know how to row the boat,

I can row the boat just so,

finger ring, the finger ring.
I can row the boat just so,

 finger ring, the finger ring.

I can row,

I can row the bumble bee,
I can row,

I know how to row the bee,
I know how to row the bee,

bumble bee, the bumble bee.

 

The second movement, a homage to Douglas’s farming, was inspired by a famous cowboy tune and the last movement is an insecty romp based on a song I keep meaning to write – there’s also a little quote from Joseph M. Daly’s 1910 hit, Chicken Reel.

 

© David Knotts 2007

 

This piece was commissioned by The Schubert Ensemble with funds gratefully received from The Steel Charitable Trust. It was first performed by the Schubert Ensemble on Thursday 8th February 2007 at the Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London.

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