Duration: 10 mins
"Instead of making myself write the book I ought to write, the novel that was expected of me, I conjured up the book I myself would like to read, the sort by an unknown writer, from another age and another country, discovered in an attic", wrote the author, Italo Calvino in his introduction to his triptych, Our Ancestors. This quote has often resonated with me on a musical level and summarises the aesthetic that I adopted when composing Folktales.
The piece is structured in three movements, with no break between II and III. The first movement is a lullaby of sorts, imagining a child being told a story, before that story is played out in the following two movements. Like all folktales it is concerned with good and evil. The second movement is somewhat rhapsodic in nature, embedding fragments of spare, faux-medieval music in what is otherwise a warm and often pastoral sound-world. The third and final movement on the other hand is a demonic waltz; a danse macabre with a playful side!
In writing the piece I was inspired by how stories are often embellished and altered whenpassed on orally, which led me to derive all of my main thematic material from a simple melody presented in the second movement (the first music I wrote), making the first and third movements, in a sense, variations.
Folktales was premiered by the Amicus Orchestra conducted by Will Conway on 25th May 2013. Since then it has been performed by the Edinburgh Contemporary Music Ensemble conducted by James Lowe, and by the Amersfoort Jeugd Orkest under the baton of Rolf Buijs in the final of the 2014 Keuris Composers Contest.