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Peter Maxwell Davies

Publisher: Chester Music

Kettletoft Inn (2006)
Chester Music Ltd
Soloist(s) and Large Ensemble (7 or more players)
Year Composed
20 Minutes
Solo Instrument(s)
northumbrian pipes

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Programme Note
Peter Maxwell Davies Kettletoft Inn (2006)
This work was written for and dedicated to Kathryn Tickell, in admiration and respect for her work in making her home county come alive with a reawakened awareness of its own musical heritage, and of inexhaustible developments and transformations of its traditions.

Its inspiration was an event at the Kettletoft Inn, Sanday, Orkney – the island where I live – in the late summer of 2005. On a Sunday afternoon, after a long spate of horrible weather, the sun suddenly appeared, and everyone rushed out of the pub, musical instruments appeared, and spontaneous dancing broke out in the street – from sheer joy, relief and pleasure at the presence of bright light after such prolonged glower.

It was a challenging work to write. I have kept the traditional tonic-dominant drones, and meticulously respected the pipes’ established range and register, resulting in tonal-modal music in which the Northumbrian pipes probably take on something of any Orcadian accent.

A slow introduction on the strings leads into a dancing ‘allegro moderato’ in which the pipes and cor anglais alternate as soloist. An adagio follows without a break, which has something of the character of a Scottish lament. Next, a scherzo, which emphasises the augmented fourth of the scale where the melody rises, and the perfect fourth in descent. The work closes with a valedictory epilogue, slow and measured.

(c) Peter Maxwell Davies, 2006

Preview the score:

  • 28 FEB 2015
    Elvet Methodist Church, Durham
    Durham University Orchestral Society
  • 13 OCT 2009
    Sir Peter Maxwell Davies 75th Birthday Concert
    Wigmore Hall, London
    Nash Ensemble
    Kathryn Tickell; Lionel Friend, conductor
  • 23 JUN 2009
    St Magnus Festival
    St. Magnus Cathedral, St Magnus, Orkney
    Kathryn Tickell
  • 22 JUN 2009
    St Magnus Festival
    St Magnus Cathedral, Kirkwall, Scotland
    Kathryn Tickell, Northumbrian Pipes
  • 29 MAY 2009
    Teatro Comunale, Firenze, Italy
    Ceccanti, conductor
  • 21 OCT 2006
    The Sage, Gateshead
    Northern Sinfonia
    Gary Walker, conductor

    Other Dates:
    22 October - Theatre by the Lake, Keswick, Cumbria
  • 19 OCT 2006
    The Sage, Gateshead
    Northern Sinfonia
    Gary Walker, conductor

You don’t expect decent summers in Orkney. But, according to Sir Peter Maxwell Davies, this year was particularly atrocious. He was sitting in his local inn one evening when the first shaft of sunlight broke through: the whole village immediately danced in celebration. Maxwell Davies knew he had to capture the moment, and the result takes the form of an engaging mini-concerto for Northumbrian pipes. It is also the first classical piece expressly written for folk icon Kathryn Tickell, the woman single-handedly responsible for making a sensual art out of squeezing a bag of wind. The piece, entitled Kettletoft Inn after the spot where the epiphany took place, witnesses the composer in one of his most genial moods. Tickell’s miraculously fleet piping sounds thoroughly at home in the vivacious jigs and reels.
The Guardian,23/10/2006
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