Richard Lambert Music

Cantilena for bassoon and piano (Op.11e)

A lyrical piece for bassoon and piano borrowing freely from pop, jazz and rock styles

A free transcription of Cantilena (Op.11), originally for alto saxophone and piano

For Miriam Butler

Its title derives from its prominent use of sustained, smooth-flowing melodic lines; indeed the melody was recycled from an arietta from the opera, Yellow Earth Ridge, which has since been withdrawn by the composer.

Cantilena tries to capture a popular flavour, borrowing freely from pop, jazz and rock styles: primary and secondary chords are used in arpeggiated piano figures, as mainstream ballads might do; pedal notes are a feature, especially on the tonic note, and a ‘bluesy’ style emerges in the third main theme.

A pseudo-rock style is twice used on the climax section, which acts as a song-like chorus.

Cantilena is in the key of D major overall, but even the introduction uses ‘wrong-note’ harmony (notably flattened sevenths) to produce ambiguous tonality. The piece demonstrates a range of tone colour for the bassoon across a wide melodic range.


  1. 6 October 2012, at the Karmi (Karaman) village church, near Kyrenia, North Cyprus, by Miriam Butler (bassoon) and the composer (piano)


This recording of Cantilena for bassoon and piano was produced using computer software called Sibelius: it is not a live recording.


You can view and purchase the score of Cantilena for bassoon and piano from Score Exchange.

If you wish to listen to the piece on that website, select the ‘MP3 file’ link instead of playing the embedded score for better audio quality.

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