The Street of Crocodiles

John Woolrich (1954)

The Street of Crocodiles 2005

tpt - pno - strings

The Street of Crocodiles, John Woolrich’s new concerto for piano, trumpet and strings, was inspired by the short stories of the Polish writer, Bruno Schulz. In his programme note, Woolrich quotes from these magical tales of a lost pre-First World War world seen through the eyes of the young son of an eccentric Jewish tailor. In the shops in the Street of Crocodiles you could find:

“Bengal lights, magic boxes, the stamps of long-forgotten countries, Chinese decals, indigo, calaphony from Malabar, the eggs of exotic insects, parrots, toucans, live salamanders and basilisks, mandrake roots, mechanical toys from Nuremberg, homunculi in jars, microscopes, binoculars, and, most especially, strange and rare books, old folio volumes full of astonishing engravings and amazing stories.”

It is easy to see why the composer describes it as “capricious, abstract, energetic, like a collage of brightly coloured objects”. The work is in one continuous movement, lasting fifteen minutes.
John Woolrich

6.2.06 Civic Centre, Stratford-upon-Avon: Huw Watkins/Toby Coles/Orchestra of the Swan/David Curtis
7.2.06 Cheltenham: Huw Watkins/Toby Coles/Orchestra of the Swan/David Curtis
1.2.08 BBC Maida Vale, London: Huw Watkins/BBC Symphony Orchestra/Ryan Wigglesworth