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David Knotts Night Song and Garden Quadrille (2009)

For violin, viola, cello and double bass

9 minutes


I wanted to write a piece which focused on Judy Kleinman’s love of gardening. Gardens are not only places for quiet contemplation and reflection but also places for dancing and celebration. Both of these qualities are reflected in the music.

The quiet sections which begin and end the piece were inspired by a poem by Giovanni Pascoli, Il gelsomino notturno describing the scent of the night-flowering jasmine.


And the flowers of night open, in the hour that I think of those dear to me. 

The twilight butterflies have appeared among the viburnums.

For a while now the cries have ceased: only over there a house whispers. 

Nests sleep under wings, like eyes under eyelids.

The scent of red strawberries is breathed up from open chalices. 

A light shines there in a room. Grass springs above ditches.

A late bee murmurs finding the cells already taken. 

The hen goes through the blue barnyard followed by her chirping of stars.

All through the night a scent rises that passes with the wind. 

The light passes up the stairs: shines out from the first floor: is extinguished……

It is dawn: the petals close, slightly crumpled;

their nests in the soft and secret urn some new happiness, I cannot say what.


This music frames a central Quadrille. I was intrigued by the eighteenth century square dance and the way it was divided into different sections, each with a bucolic title: L’été (summer) La Poule (the hen) and La Pastourelle (the shepherd girl) I was also amused by a section called Le Pantalon (the pair of trousers) Although I found lots of information about this particular dance, the music for a Quadrille proved to be more tricky to come by – so I’ve imagined a party with people dancing in the garden, celebrating both the beauty of a summer garden and the joy of a birthday.  


© David Knotts 2007


Night Song and Garden Quadrille was commissioned by Daniel Kleinman to celebrate his wife’s birthday and was first performed by the Schubert Ensemble in their garden on June 7th 2009.


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