• Martin Dalby
  • Coll for the Hazel Tree (1979)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Electric Phoenix

  • SATB
  • 25 min
  • Martin Dalby
  • Edwin Morgan
  • English

Programme Note

Martin Dalby: Coll for the Hazel Tree
A Spell for four voices with amplification

Coll is the ancient Gaelic letter C. This letter C (as with all the letters in the Gaelic alphabet) has its own association - the Hazel Tree. Coll for the Hazel Tree is about such mysteries, riddles and legends that pervade our imagination and lie darkly in the roots of our culture.

Coll for the Hazel Tree was commissioned by Electric Phoenix with the financial help of the Arts Council of Great Britain. The words have been specially written by the Scottish poet Edwin Morgan.

It begins with the discovery of language and the origins of ideas; it tells of the forces which engendered the tales and fables of ancient history.

"All the secrets of heaven and earth
Wash over me as I lie on the lake.
My ears are labyrinths drumming with wonders.
I trail my fingers through empires and archives.
My hair swirls out beyond Vega.
Let me play with your secrets to pass an evening."

The secrets are revealed in a mystical alphabet which the composer has set as an optional addition to the central section of the work. The latter part of the work strives for the freedom of the human spirit:

"How strange it is to feel the leaves and rain!
It is not cold now in this grove.
And there are so many voices. It must be birds
As well as rain, and that far-off human roar
That washes and recedes like waves."