All four pieces were inspired by the composer's native Scotland and evoke a range of moods and images of the heritage and history of this wonderful country.
1. The Green Lady
'The Green Lady' is said to haunt the Castle of Mey, now the holiday residence of HRH Prince Charles, on the North coast of Scotland. The story goes that, many years ago, she was locked in the highest tower by her father following an illicit love affair with a farm handm and committed suicide by jumping from the window into the courtyard below.
The music remains in bass clef throughout, offering a range of musical and technical challenges in the orchestral register of the double bass. A strong sense of line and drama will bring the music to life and there is scope to create a wonderful piece of music drama.
2. Viking Raid
Viking warriors were regular visitors to the North Coast and the Northern Isles of Scotland, quickly claiming this area as part of their own Norse kingdom. This piece depicts a fictional raid on St Magnus Cathedral; the long-boat is secretly rowed towards Kirkwall while the monks quietly chant their early morning prayers. (This theme is transcribed from a 12th-century manuscript which was found in the cathedral.) When the vikings storm the building, they take no prisoners, leaving only the ghostly echo of the monks' chant.
A range of double stops begin the piece - a melody above an open D drone - leading into a more lyrical and cantabile theme depicting the prayers of the monks. There is energy and drama in the middle section, throughout the range of the double bass, ending with a coda of false harmonics as a ghostly echo of the now silent prayers. Much to challenge any bassist with a confident knowledge of thumb position.
3. Orkney Otters
Otters are easy to spot in the waters around Orkney - they are fun-loving, playful, curious creatures who never stop moving in the water. Even when they are swimming beneath the surface, they leave a delightful trail of bubbles behind them, often re-emerging with a squirming, glistening fish between their sharp teeth.
Marked 'scherzando'. this piece is lively and energetic, depicting the antics of the otters in the water. Passages or arco and pizzicato create contrasts, with the occasional double stop thrown in for good measure, and this offers much to bassists starting to playing in low thumb position.
Everyone has heard of the Loch Ness monster - but very few people understand her true character. Massive, ugly and slimy - her terrifying outward appearance masks her gentle, sad and very, very lonely personality. In common with all of us, the only thing Nessie really wants is someone to love. But unlike the rest of us, she is destined to live out her long life as a sub-se hermit; all alone. Sad. Very sad.
This has a slow and mysterious feel, with its long and flowing cantabile melodies, primarily in bass clef. There is much scope to create a musical soundscape of enormous breath and scope and there are a few ventures into low thumb position.
KATRINA GORDON studied at the Royal Academy of Music and at the Royal Northern College of Music. She went on to pursue a career as a freelance bassoon player in Scotland, regularly performing with a variety of orchestras including Scottish Opera and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra.
She now lives in her native town of Thurso, located on the far north of Scotland, where her musical horizons have been widened by a lively amateur music scene.