The Apple Tree

Composition, Recorders, Piano, Mixing: Racheal Cogan
Recorders by Geri Bollinger – alto (F or G), tenor, bass, cbass, and contrabass.


I wrote this piece for an instrument that Geri Bollinger made for me from the gorgeous, elderly apple tree in his photo above.

This tree brought a lot of happiness. It is hard to not be drawn into the red hammock to lie there daydreaming, listening to the birds, and imagining the ants crawling over your feet or the book you might be reading. The tree stood in a vacant lot behind Geri’s house until the day that the owners of the land decided to build a house on it and the apple tree was cut down to make room. Now the wood from the tree has given voice to three G alto recorders (and a wooden spoon that I use for cooking).

All of my instruments come from different places, and the wood that made them has often travelled several times around the world before the instrument is in my hands; from heavy cold grenadilla and ebony, boxwood that yellows darkly over the years (and that on one recorder has warped into a beautiful crookedness), to lovely light maple, pear and apple. Often the first question a person asks me about my instruments is: “What wood is that?” Usually I know, but sometimes my head muddles into a frown and I have no idea. This beautiful G apple alto is the first time that I have heard a story of the tree that made it: photos and histories as it was still growing, how much joy it brought to the maker, how he was sad to lose it, how he later found the wood abandoned, aged it carefully, and then the story of the making.

In this composition I weave together a melody rising up from the apple alto that had been creeping slowly into my days, buoyed by a mosaic of repetitive motifs and large swathes where people aren’t just playing together but overlapping different ideas and coming together often just in pairs with their own threads. The piano part is holding these otherwise disparate lines together and bringing rhythmic impetus and color; sometimes hinting at morning fog, or  rhythmically shivering as if reaching its limbs outwards. The contrabass plays a very simple role in the music – lots of held low notes because I just love how rich they are, and the use of an occasional octave pedal to bring in hints of some super low frequencies; because I am a bass-junkie. The cBass plays this role some of the time sharing with the contrabass, but it also brings its own stories – especially in the opening  where it joins the piano.

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The Apple Alto

Because it also takes a village to make a piece of music, I couldn’t have composed, recorded and scored The Apple Tree without all of the timely suggestions and advice from Geri, Susanna, and Andrew. Thank you so much for listening; and for your patience, time, and generosity. I couldn’t have dreamed up a better support team, and the music is better because of you.

The Apple Tree is written for piano and five recorders:- alto (F or G), tenor, bass, cbass, and contrabass. For those who want to try playing it, the score will be published by Edition Tre Fontane in 2017. All of the recorders used in this recording were made by Geri.

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8 thoughts on “The Apple Tree

  1. Dear Racheal What a beautiful apple tree, which you and Geri have made it live forever – Œfrom little things big things grow¹. As always Racheal beautiful sounds as I sit up on this warm, some would say hot night, not able to sleep, but slowly drawn into the cool breeze on a red hammock, with the smell of apple blossom, grass and your playing. Your energy is astounding. Its been a few hot days, but getting used to it and the humidity, which does wonders for my hair ­ everyday it looks almost like I have had a perm, or the curly look when I was a little (cute!) girl. And your scarf/shawl looks beautiful, so glad it works well on you. Well maybe I can now sleep, well timed Racheal, this last day of 2016. Ready for the new? Much love,

    1. Thanks 🙂 happy new year! and thanks for the lovely shawl xx

  2. This is a wonderful piece for recorder ensemble and thanks for not only sharing it but making it available to us. The tone of the recorders is beautiful and kudos to their maker.

  3. Beautiful piece. Knowing so much about the life of the wood out of which one’s instruments are created is a beautiful thing. I always enjoy your explanations of your creative process.

    1. Happy New Year. Thanks for your always beautiful comments!

  4. Beautiful piece! The combination of the 5 recorders, works so well. And a lovely story to go along with. Your writings/explanations/background story on the musical creations is always so engaging.

    1. Thanks, your lovely comments are much appreciated xo

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