Three Fantasy Pieces

for oboe and piano

forces: Piano, Oboe
duration: Ca 14'00"
1992
published by: Composers Edition

Programme Note

Three Fantasy Pieces for oboe and piano

The first of these pieces was partially written in 1982, but then forgotten until 1992, when both it and the second movement were completed. A third movement was always intended, but failed to materialise until January 1995.

The opening Romanza bears a superscription taken from the poetry of William Morris:

…The fruit-hung branches moved, and suddenly

The trembling apples smote the dewless grass

And all the year to autumn-tide did pass…

The Notturno was originally entitled Rossignol, and was set to be the product of an enthusiasm for the lyrical poetic language of the mediaeval Provençal troubadours – in particular Bernard de Ventadorn. However, discovery of an anonymous 13th-century Italian poem of similar character proved the catalyst for this music, which obliquely summons its mediaeval world through a gently distorting mirror of 20th-century reinvention:

He is in a wood. He begins to walk,

Hearing a little bird so sweetly singing…

“Beautiful nightingale, come back into my garden.

O fairest nightingale, return again to my garden.”

 The poetic French villanelle form (borrowed by several modern British poets, including Dylan Thomas) was traditionally a nineteen-line poem in which five three-line verses were followed by a four-line variant. The outer lines of each tercet rhymed with each other and with those of the other tercets, and the inner lines all rhymed too. In the culminating quatrain the same rhyme persisted, though this time a fourth line reinforced the third.

The French term Villanelle is much better known than the Italian Villanella from which it emerged. It is the older Italian connotation of Villanella, as a light mid-16th-century piece of vocal music emanating from Naples and influencing the madrigal, that gives the Rondo-based last Fantasy Piece its title. A bucolic mood holds sway, but this is tinged with periodic reawakenings of the autumnal mood encountered in the Romanza, a brief passage from which recurs in the middle. The music is headed by a snatch from a boyhood poem by the Second World War poet Keith Douglas:

…And now in the South the swallows

Swirling precisely among the dazzled trees…

As a professional pianist and one-time second-study oboist, I drew upon my inside knowledge of these instruments to write what I hope will be rewarding descriptive pieces for both performers.

© Francis Pott, October 2018

Programme Note

Composers' Note

[i] Romanza: Allegretto malinconico
[ii] Notturno: Andante lento
[iii] Villanella: Allegretto comodo

These are lyrical, melodious pieces, each of approximately 3-5 minutes’ duration, calling for an oboist of around ABRSM Grade 8 standard and a sensitive, dextrous accompanist.

Composers' Note