This work has two previous versions, one for bass clarinet (2017-AV86), which remains unpublished, and another for bassoon (2017-AV86b), which was premiered and recorded on disc by Miguel Puchol. This version for tuba is especially arranged for my friend the soloist José Martínez, to whom it is dedicated. He performed pre-premieres from November 16 to December 2, 2019, in the Auditorium of Chelva (Valencia, Spain), as well as during his subsequent US tour, in the University of Washington’s Brechemin Auditorium, in Chicago’s Buntrock Hall and in the San Francisco Conservatory’s Concert Hall. He finally premiered it on December 5, 2019 in the University of Boston’s Concert Hall. Later performances include those at the Jeju International Festival (South Korea) and the Festival Internacional Isla Verde Bronces de Córdoba (Argentina).
Although the complete work is around eight minutes long, José Martínez has produced a shorter version of around five minutes, thereby facilitating its inclusion in certain programmes.
To perform the short version, the passages from bars 46 to 66, 88 to 105, 185 to 260 and 269 to 277 are omitted. Furthermore, in the trills at bars 24, 31, 38, 45, 73, 80, and 87, the final chromatic descent is omitted, trilling on the E flat for the entire duration of the measure.
The tonal centre of the work is E flat, which in Germanic nomenclature is written Es, the beginning of the word Escocia (Scotland). The title, St. Andrew’s Cross, is precisely the figure of that country’s flag, a figure which, due to its symmetry, offers different possibilities for retrograde and inversion, resources to which the work’s main motif is subjected, especially inversion. Meanwhile, especially in the last section, three Scottish themes are quoted: a Scottish folk song usually played with bagpipes; the main motif of the Scherzo from Symphony No. 3 op. 56 by the German composer Felix Mendelssohn (his Scottish Symphony); and finally, a brief melodic twist from the soundtrack James Horner wrote for the film Braveheart, which tells the life story of Scotland’s best-known hero, William Wallace.
The piece’s main theme is obtained by using a simple system of transforming text into sound, based on the popular board game Scrabble, which I devised years ago when writing the second movement of my Fifth Symphony. This simple system consists of applying a numerical value to each letter, which influences its height and duration.