Category Archives: Saxophone Music

Saxophone Music

Naked Hum for Alto Saxophone & Piano – Taran Carter

Composer: Taran Carter (born 1980)

Date of Composition: 2005

Country: Australia

Premiere: 28, November, 2007 – Barry Cockroft (alto saxophone), Adam Pinto (piano); Rolston Recital Hall, the Banff, Alberta, Canada.

Duration: 9 minutes

Difficulty level: 8

Stylistic Features:

  • Instrumental techniques include quarter tones, subtones, glissandi, flutter tonguing, slap tonguing, air noises, tongue clicks, altissimo register.
  • Octave displacements, regular leaps of major 7th, minor 9th etc.
  • Rhythmically complex, occasional irrational beat subdivision, syncopated pseudo-disco rhythms (an ability to dance like John Travolta would help!)
  • Instrumentation: alto saxophone and piano

Publisher: Reed Music

Recording:

Other Comments:
Naked Hum (2006) is a virtuosic and atmospheric piece designed to explore texture, density, distorted repetition and disco rhythms. The work is dense and complex at times but has an inherent simplicity to its form and melodic material disguised through jagged octave displacements, extreme registers and irrational subdivisions of the beat. Naked Hum begins with the work’s unifying motif (played on the piano) while the saxophone glides around this motif (or riff) employing quarter-tones and glissandi to create an eery ambience. Hidden subtly in this texture the piano player is asked to click his tongue on the occasional backbeat. This is one of the works first, of many, references to Pop music. The music builds in intensity until about five minutes into the piece when the piano plays discoesque syncopated rhythms and a wild dialogue/dance between the piano and the saxophone begins. This section climaxes with a chaotic unison passage and, with a gasp, the music explodes into a kind of exhausted recapitulation of the original idea. Naked Hum was premiered by Barry Cockroft and Adam Pinto on the 28th of November 2007 in Canada.

About the composer:
Born in 1980 Taran Carter has been writing music since he realised that to be a Pop Star you either had to look good, sound good or write nice tunes. He chose the latter. Taran’s musical interests are diverse; they include Toru Takemitsu, Paul Simon, Iannis Xenakis, Augie March, Arvo Pärt, Tom Waits and Claude Debussy. Perhaps because of these varied influences Taran’s music often explores the common aspects between the pop and contemporary classical worlds. This approach has attracted performances by groups such as the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra and Opera Australia.

Taran has written music for film, television, theatre and in 1999 was asked to write two songs to which the Australian Synchronised Swimming Team swam at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games.

Taran studied at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne under the tuition of Mark Pollard, Julian Yu and Johanna Selleck but also found time to grab lessons from other influential composition teachers such as Michael Smetanin, Stuart Greenbaum and Laurie Whiffen.

Taran lives not far from Melbourne with his partner and two daughters.

Cloud Eight for Alto Saxophone and Guitar – Stuart Greenbaum

Composer: Stuart Greenbaum (born 1966)

Date of composition: 1995  / 2005

Country: Australia

Dedication and premiere: Written for Gerald McChrystal (saxophone) and Craig Ogden (guitar)

Premiere: 14 October, 2005 – Gerald McChrystal (alto saxophone) and Craig Ogden (guitar); Weston Gallery, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff, UK

Duration: 7 minutes

Difficulty level: 7

Stylistic features:

  • A contemplative lyrical piece that requires an even and soft tone across a wide register of the alto saxophone
  • An intricate duo with guitar with significant rhythmic challenges in ensemble playing
  • Instrumental techniques include growl tone, bends and the use of the altissimo register

This version for alto saxophone and guitar was adapted specifically for Gerard McChrystal and Craig Ogden, who gave the premiere performance on 14 October 2005 in the Weston Gallery of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff and subsequently recorded the piece for their CD, Pluck Blow (Meridian Records).

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and guitar

Publisher: Reed Music

Recording: CD: “Pluckblow” Meridian Records [DCE84546]. Available from Meridian Records (UK).

Recording sample:

Other comments:

Reviews:
“The penultimate piece in today’s lunchtime recital was the World Premiere performance of Cloud Eight by Australian composer Stuart Greenbaum. Gerard performed the UK premiere of another work by the same composer, Sleepless in Overnight City in Aberystwyth in 2004, who then wrote this lovely dreamy piece for alto saxophone and guitar later in the same year, which beautifully showed off Gerard’s tone.”
Lara James, Clarinet and Saxophone magazine (UK), October 2005

“Australian Stuart Greenbaum’s Cloud Eight (1995; revised 2005) is an aspirational dialogue grounded – but not defeated – by brute reality, the resulting melancholia–tinged conversation concluding with an elated reverie that redeems and rewards.”
Michael Quinn, JMI Magazine (Ireland), March 2007

About the composer: The Stuart Greenbaum sound has overt connections to jazz, pop and minimalism but goes beyond these important influences. Greenbaum (Melb. 1966–) studied composition with Brenton Broadstock and Barry Conyngham at the University of Melbourne, where he now holds a position in the School of Music as Senior Lecturer and Convenor of Composition.

Greenbaum was a Featured Composer at the 2006 Aurora Festival (Western Sydney), resident composer at the 2009 Port Fairy Spring Music Festival and Composer in Focus at the 2009 Bangalow Music Festival. He has won a number of awards, including the Dorian Le Galliene Composition Award, the Heinz Harant Prize, and the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award.90 Minutes Circling the Earth won ‘Orchestral Work of the Year’ at the 2008 Classical Music Awards. His most recent individual CD, Mercurial, was released in 2005.

He has written extensively for the saxophone which connects to his love of rock and contemporary jazz music and seeks to take that idiomatic sound into new areas. www.stuartgreenbaum.com

Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano – Stuart Greenbaum

Composer: Stuart Greenbaum (born 1966)

Date of composition: 2002

Country: Australia

Dedication and premiere: Written for Barry Cockcroft and Adam Pinto

Premiere: 30 April, 2003 – Barry Cockcroft (alto saxophone) and Adam Pinto (piano); Melba Hall, The University of Melbourne, Australia.

Duration: 21 minutes

Difficulty level: 8

Stylistic features:
A Sonata in 3 movements
1: Moderate, Expansive. A lyrical, post-minimal construction which presents rhythmic challenges against constant time signature changes and working its way up into the highest register of the instrument.
2: Slow, theme and variations: notable for the use of the saxophone in blending with the piano but also in the use of the solo unaccompanied line to represent both line and harmony.
3: Fast, mercurial. The final movement is marked at a frenetic, challenging tempo of 180 – 200, and like the first movement features constant changing of time signatures.

• instrumental techniques include growl tone, bends and the use of the altissimo register.
• the influence of the blues and contemporary jazz / fusion welded to a post-minimalist / classical architecture.

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and piano

Publisher: Reed Music

Recording: CD: “Mercurial” [RM099]. Available from the publisher.

Recording sample:

Other comments:

Review:
The opening movement is based around a constantly changing meter alternating groups of two and three quavers, developing into a very strong set of memorable themes, ending with an altissimo version of the theme that is ethereal and haunting. The second movement is dogged in its slow forward movement. The simple theme becoming gradually more ornate as the movement unfolds. The climax unfolds in a cascade of scales that brings the piece to its emotional high point. The third movement, marked Mercurial, the title of the CD, is made of additive rhythms, as in the first movement, but faster. The judicious use of altissimo to bring the piece to an exciting finale is well negotiated by Cockcroft, who is surely one of Australia’s finest exponents of classical saxophone playing. I highly recommend this CD.”

James Nightingale, Australian Clarinet & Saxophone Vol 8-4, December 2005

About the composer:
The Stuart Greenbaum sound has overt connections to jazz, pop and minimalism but goes beyond these important influences. Greenbaum (Melb. 1966–) studied composition with Brenton Broadstock and Barry Conyngham at the University of Melbourne, where he now holds a position in the School of Music as Senior Lecturer and Convenor of Composition.

Greenbaum was a Featured Composer at the 2006 Aurora Festival (Western Sydney), resident composer at the 2009 Port Fairy Spring Music Festival and Composer in Focus at the 2009 Bangalow Music Festival. He has won a number of awards, including the Dorian Le Galliene Composition Award, the Heinz Harant Prize, and the Albert H. Maggs Composition Award.90 Minutes Circling the Earth won ‘Orchestral Work of the Year’ at the 2008 Classical Music Awards. His most recent individual CD, Mercurial, was released in 2005.

He has written extensively for the saxophone which connects to his love of rock and contemporary jazz music and seeks to take that idiomatic sound into new areas. www.stuartgreenbaum.com

Crazy Logic for Alto Saxophone and Piano – Matthew Orlovich

Composer: Matthew Orlovich (born 1970)

Date of composition: 2006

Country: Australia

Dedication and premiere: Written for Barry Cockcroft and Adam Pinto

Premiere: Sunday 8 October, 2006 – Barry Cockcroft (alto saxophone) and Adam Pinto (piano); Port Fairy Spring Music Festival, Port Fairy, VIC, Australia.

Duration: 12 minutes

Difficulty level: 8

Stylistic features:
• Section 1 (b.1-167) – “With bite”. High intensity music, characterized by rapid, unison chromatic passages which twist and scurry up, down and around the musical staves.
• Section 2 (b.168-237) – The energy drops, allowing for a more intimate and introspective mood. Alto sax and piano play a very delicate, lyrical music featuring evocative, sustained tones over gently rhythmic undercurrents.
• Section 3 (b.238-338) – High intensity music makes a return, leading to a full recapitulation of the twisting and scurrying music of Section 1.
• A brief coda (b.339-348) further increases the intensity of the music, bringing the work to its climactic conclusion.

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and piano

Publisher: Reed Music

Recording: CD: “Crazy Logic” [RM333]. Available from the publisher.

Recording sample:

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Other comments:

“…compelling…” [Elizabeth Ruthven, The Mercury, Hobart, TAS, 22 September, 2007].

The composer writes: “Crazy Logic (for alto saxophone and piano, 2006) was composed at the invitation of saxophonist Barry Cockcroft and pianist Adam Pinto.

“In composing the work, I have chosen to use musical ideas of a mostly intense and driving nature. My melodic lines comprise semiquavers which twist, scurry and traverse up, down and around the musical staves at a great pace. Furthermore, the two instrumentalists often play in unison or at the octave, lending added urgency and directness to the music.

“While a softer, more reflective mood is revealed at the heart of the work, it is the energetic music with its chromatic kinks, jagged contours and wide leaps that elicits, for me, the ‘crazy’ mood alluded to in the work’s title. In stitching my ‘crazy’ music together, I have aimed to afford the work a certain logic by virtue of balanced phrasing and fluent transitions between sections of the work.

“I thank Barry and Adam for inviting me to compose this work and for giving the work its premiere performance.”

About the composer: Based in Sydney, Australia, Matthew Orlovich studied music composition at the University of Sydney (B.Mus Hons 1993, PhD. 2000) with Eric Gross and Peter Sculthorpe. His compositions include music for solo instrumentalists, chamber groups, choirs, bands and symphony orchestras.

In recent years, Matthew has composed several works for saxophone. These include “Air Traffic Control” (for solo saxophone, 2002), “Crazy Logic” (for alto saxophone and piano, 2006) and “Flight of Fancy” (for alto saxophone and piano, 2006). Matthew’s current commissions include an exciting new concerto scored for alto saxophone and concert band. www.mattheworlovich.com

Quintet for Alto Saxophone & String Quartet – Perry Goldstein

Composer: Perry Goldstein (born 1952)

Date of Composition: 2006-7

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
University of Minnesota during 7th Eugene Rousseau International Master Class, October 25th, 2007

Duration: 18 minutes

Difficulty level: 7

Stylistic Features:
Movements
I. Bright and exuberant
II. Heartfelt and singing
III. Dancing, yet driving

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and string quartet

Publisher: Reed Music

Recording: NA

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Other comments:
Note from the composer:
Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet (2006) features three movements of wildly different character, all influenced by quite different kinds of music. The first movement, “Bright and exuberant,” is simultaneously heroic and breezy. Undulating near-minimalist figures in the strings accompany overarching melodies played by the saxophone. The B section within this A-B-A’ form is more languid, while the outer A sections contain music that is buoyant and striving.

I think of the tune at the center of movement 2 (“Heartfelt and singing”) as an urban spiritual. Though simple, it first finds itself in a bluesy if somewhat chromatically tortured chorale-like setting. Four variations follow. The first preserves the pace of the saxophone melody in a setting of pizzicato strings and short lamenting outbursts. The second variation poses quintuplet perpetual-motion arabesques against the melody while the cello plays with and against the quintuplets in rhythmic syncopation. The third variation spins an uptempo jazz waltz out of the material while the fourth sets the tune lamentingly in surprising harmonies in the strings’ upper registers. A cadenza for the saxophone brings the movement to a somber close.

The third movement is something of a middle-eastern dance, made rhythmically jagged by the everchanging meters. Marked “Dancing, yet driving,” this movement emulates the A-B-A’ shape of the first. However, the B section and the coda recapitulate the tune of the first movement, first in a melancholy mood and then in exuberant conclusion.
Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet is dedicated to saxophonist Kenneth Tse and the Escher String Quartet.

Perry Goldstein (born 1952 in New York City) studied at the University of Illinois, UCLA, and Columbia University. His principal teachers were Herbert Brün, Ben Johnston, Chou Wen-Chung, and Mario Davidovsky. Goldstein has written extensively for saxophone. Since his first collaboration in the medium with the Aurelia Saxophone Quartet in 1993 on “Blow!” (called “genuine fireworks” by the Aachener Zeitung and “a raw-boned tour-de-force” by the Buffalo News), he has composed over a dozen works for such groups as the West Point, Prism, and Capitol Saxophone Quartets, and his music has been performed by leading saxophonists world-wide, including Arno Bornkamp, Philippe Geiss, Susan Fancher, Joseph Lulloff, Otis Murphy, and Kenneth Tse, among others. His music is available on Bridge, Challenge, Crystal, Dutch Vanguard, New World, and United States Military Recordings, and is published by Bergez Music Publishing (The Netherlands) and Reed Music (Australia). Since 1992, Goldstein has served on the faculty of Stony Brook University.

Arirang Variations for Alto Saxophone, Basson & Piano – David Froom

Composer: David Froom (born 1951)

Date of Composition: 2005

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Benjamin Coelho, bassoon
Alan Huckleberry, piano
April 11th, 2005; University of Iowa, Clapp Recital Hall

Duration: 10 minutes

Difficulty level: 7

Stylistic Features: NA

Instrumentation: alto saxophone, bassoon, and piano

Publisher: dfroom@smcm.edu

Recording: Crystal Records CD358

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Other comments:
Note from the composer:
When my family visited Korea in the summer of 2004, I heard the melody Arirang many times. The beautiful and haunting tune is sung to a departing loved one. For the Korean people, it has further significance and deep resonance, evoking sadness, wistfulness, pride in and longing for home. The melody was already familiar to me from having attended Korean Culture School with my daughter Rosalie, whom my wife and I adopted as an infant from Korea in 1996.

I had been puzzling about what to write for this album ever since Kenneth Tse had invited me to participate in early 2004. Suddenly, while I was in Korea, the hushed opening of Arirang Variations (as well as the conception for the whole piece) came to me. The theme and the first five variations make up a first large section. The sixth variation interrupts with a sharp change in tempo and texture. The seventh variation is elaborate and extended. The eighth variation is a coda. The melody itself is never completely absent, but after the opening statement, it is heard in increasingly fragmented form, as if an increasingly distant but persistent memory.

Arirang Variations was commissioned by the Barlow Endowment for Music Composition at Brigham Young University, and is dedicated to Kenneth Tse.

Le Petit Duo for Alto Saxophone and Clarinet – David DeBoor Canfield

Composer: David DeBoor Canfield (born 1950)

Date of Composition: 2001

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth and Melanie Tse

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Nophachal Cholthitchanta, clarinet
April 11, 2003; Moorhead, Minnesota

Duration: 7 minutes

Difficulty level (1-10): 7

Stylistic Features:
Movements
1. The Chase
2. The Chaise Lounge
3. Tse-Tse Fly

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and clarinet

PublisherEnharmonic Press

Recording: NA

Other comments:
Le Petit Duo was composed between September 29 and October 3, 2001 and fairly extensively rewritten in July and August of 2001. The impetus for its composition came from Kenneth Tse, who point out to the composer the dearth of works for clarinet and alto saxophone. The Duo is petite only in length, comprising three brief movements, and not in facility, making demands on two very talented musicians.

Each of the three movements makes some kind of word play on the name of the dedicatees, whose surname is pronounced cheh. The first movement, The Chase, seeks to evoke a chase through similar material being hurled back and forth between the two instruments, and use of long runs of 16th notes. The second movement, The Chaise Lounge, suggests a lounge atmosphere with its undulating rhythms and laid-back style, albeit with a virtuoso section which suggests the sentiment, “anything you can play, I can play faster.” The third movement, Tse-Tse Fly, adopts the only word in English that utilizes the Tses’ name. Depicting such an insect buzzing around, the movement also musically characterizes in several places attempts to swat the fly. Whether the fly escapes to buzz another day will be best decided by the listener.

Concerto Agrariana for Alto Saxophone & Wind Band – John Cheetham

Composer: John Cheetham (born 1939)

Date of Composition: 2004

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse, Myron Welch, and The University of Iowa Symphony Band

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Myron Welch, conductor
University of Iowa Symphony Band
April 12, 2004; Iowa City, Iowa

Duration: 18 minutes

Difficulty level: 7

Stylistic Features:
Movements
1. Allegro gioviale
2. Lento e pensieroso
3. Scherzando
4. Vigoroso

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and wind band

Publisher: Booneslick Press, Inc.

Recording: NA

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Other comments:

Concerto Agrariana is the second work by composer John Cheetham written especially for saxophonist Kenneth Tse. The first, Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, was written in 2001 and premiered by Dr. Tse at the NASA Biennial Conference at the University of North Texas in 2002. Dr. Tse has subsequently recorded the work on Crystal Label. Concerto Agrariana pays tribute to the rugged determination and inherent resourcefulness of the pioneers who settled the rural Midwest during the early 19th century. The composer has attempted to represent musically what painters like Grant Wood and Thomas Hart Benton portrayed visually. Folk-like melodies and harmonies, often diatonic or modal, give the piece an “American ruralist” character. This quality is further enhanced by punctuated rhythms that are sometimes asymmetric and unpredictable. The versatile saxophone with its inherent ability to “sing” offers an ideal instrument with which to express these ideas.

In this piece, the traditional three-movement concerto has been forsaken for a four-movement form. Although the first three movements are similar in their structural design (a tri-partite musical form), they vary considerably in character and mood.

Movement I is based on a simple triadic first theme followed by a second, more lyrical theme. The wide-ranged thematic idea presented at the beginning of Movement II leads to a second folk-like theme in 5/8 meter. Movement III is a scherzando, providing a playful contrast to the solemnity of the second movement. The finale is a sprightly rondo featuring another cadenza and concludes with a spirited coda section.

The work was made possible by funding from a University of Iowa Arts and Humanities Initiative Grant.

Sonata for Alto Saxophone & Piano – John Cheetham

Composer: John Cheetham (born 1939)

Date of Composition: 2001

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Leonard Mark Lewis, piano
March 6-9, 2002; Denton, Texas

Duration: 17 minutes

Difficulty level: 7

Stylistic Features:
Movements
1. Giocoso
2. Lento
3. Con moto

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and piano

Publisher: Booneslick Press, Inc.

Recording: Crystal Records CD657

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Other comments:
On the page and to the ear Cheetham’s saxophone sonata communicates his no-nonsense directness, a neo-classic transparency of texture, and an interplay between the two instruments that respects the chamber music ideal. The lively opening movement at times suggests a slightly grotesque march—playful and even fragile—with its persistent rhythms, irregular phrases, metric interruptions, and modular repetitions. The introduction of the slow movement offers a contrasting mood with a drone-like pedal as the foundation for a flight of delicate lyricism by the saxophonist in the high register. The mid-section is dominated by a metric rethinking in 11/4 time (pairs of measures in the pattern of 6/4 and 5/4) and ultimately by the drama of a cadenza that serves as preparation for the return of the initial thematic material. The energetic finale is scherzo-like: an impressive testimonial to the rhythmic possibilities of 3/8 time. The nature of this piece recalls what is often whimsically said of Mozart’s chamber music: it is too accessible for over-achieving amateurs and yet, at the same time, a serious—if not treacherous—challenge for thoughtful professionals.

Sonata for Baritone Saxophone & Piano – David DeBoor Canfield

Composer: David DeBoor Canfield (born 1950)

Date of Composition: 2008

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Jason Sifford, piano
November 14th, 2008, University of Iowa

Duration: 13 minutes

Difficulty level: 8

Stylistic Features:
Movements
1. Tempo di Bolero
2. Tempo di Marcia Funebre
3. Tempo de Tarantella

Instrumentation: baritone saxophone and piano

PublisherEnharmonic Press

Recording: NA

Other comments:
The Sonata for Baritone Saxophone and Piano was begun on February 18, 2008 and completed on the following April 7th. It is the third of a projected four sonatas written for saxophonist, Kenneth Tse, one for each of the four major saxophones. The work comprises three movements, each set to a tempo marking of 76 beats per minute. However, the mood of each movement is quite different from the other two. The first is a bolero, with a distinct Spanish flavor. The second is set as a funeral march, a form the composer returns to from time to time to keep himself mindful of the temporal nature of earthly life. The third is a whirlwind movement set as a tarantella, with tonal divagations sometimes far moved from its central tonality of D Major, which complements the tonalities of d minor in movement I and f minor in movement II.

Sonata for Soprano Saxophone & Piano – David DeBoor Canfield

Composer: David DeBoor Canfield (born 1950)

Date of Composition: 2006-7

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Kazuo Murakami, piano
University of Minnesota during 7th Eugene Rousseau International Master Class, October 25th, 2007

Duration: 13 minutes

Difficulty level: 8

Stylistic Features:
Movements
1. Furioso con fuoco
2. Lento ma poco movente
3. Vivacissimo

Instrumentation: soprano saxophone and piano

PublisherEnharmonic Press

Recording: NA

Other comments:
The Sonata for Soprano Saxophone and Piano was begun on October 23, 2006 and completed on February 21, 2007. However, during this period of time, about a week was devoted to actual writing of the work, as other projects intervened. The composer has inserted two brief references to well-known works associated with academia, the Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Sir Edward Elgar and the German student song Gaudeamus Igitur. Canfield has also personalized the work for Dr. Tse by the ending sonorities of the three movements: (U)T(=C), Es & E.

The work is cast in three movements, the last two of which are played without pause. The work is quite virtuosic throughout, and is intended to display both the beautiful production of tone and the considerable virtuosity of the dedicatee. Tonal throughout, the harmonies are complex and constantly shifting, in line with the composer’s freely-tonal musical language.

Concerto after Glière for Alto Saxophone & Orchestra – David DeBoor Canfield

Composer: David DeBoor Canfield (born 1950)

Date of Composition: 2009

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Eugene Rousseau

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Allan McMurray, conductor
Thailand Philharmonic Orchestra
July 8th, 2009; Bangkok, Thailand (World Saxophone Congress)

Duration: 22 minutes

Difficult level: 9

Stylistic Features:
Movements
1. Andantino—Allegro Spirito
2. Tranquillo e piacevole
3. Tempo di Tarantella

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and orchestra

PublisherEnharmonic Press

Recording: NA

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Other comments:
Given the relatively late invention of the saxophone, it is not surprising that there are few original works for the instrument written in a true romantic style, and even fewer concertos. The first germ of the idea for the present work came to me in 1994 when I was asked to arrange Reinhold Glière’s Intermezzo and Tarantella (originally composed for double bass and piano) for double bass and orchestra. Hearing the resulting performance, I liked the piece very much as an orchestral piece, but never have particularly cared for the double bass as a solo instrument. From that time, I began thinking about another instrument that would work better as the solo instrument in this arrangement, and almost immediately the saxophone came to mind. By the time in the summer of 2007 that I began work on Dr. Rousseau’s concerto, I realized that my orchestration of Glière’s two pieces could form the nucleus of a concerto that would do a small part to relieve the dearth of original romantic saxophone music.

These two movements then, with significant reworking of the solo part to make it more suitable for saxophone, became the final two movements of this concerto, although after I finished that task, and touched up the orchestration a bit, I realized that the Intermezzo was too short for a work of symphonic proportions. I therefore added an entire original middle section to double the length of that movement, and provide some needed contrast in mood. With the final two movements completed, I then had to consider what to do for a first movement, which ideally needed to be the longest movement of the work. Briefly considering looking through Glière’s oeuvre to see if another of his pieces might serve my purpose, I decided rather to compose the initial movement myself. Doing this would allow me to affix my name to the work as a composer, and not just as arranger, given that more than half of the running time of the work would be original music. The combination of Canfield and Glière also allows me to make a (very precarious) claim to having produced the “first” saxophone concerto, since the Glière work that is the foundation of the final two movements was composed in 1900. This is a year before the first original concerto for the saxophone was written by Paul Gilson, the distinguished Belgian composer. I had previously jointly composed a music drama with my father, Dr. John Canfield, and one might imagine the challenges present with two quite different composers working on the same piece of music. With Glière, it was much easier, since he died in 1956 and was not around to complain about what I was doing to his most beautiful work!

Martyrs for the Faith Concerto for Alto Saxophone & Symphonic Winds – David DeBoor Canfield

Composer: David DeBoor Canfield (born 1950)

Date of Composition: 2004

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse

Premiere: Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Slovenia Army Band, Alain Crepin, conductor
July 7th, 2006; Ljubljana, Slovenia (World Saxophone Congress)

Duration: 20 minutes

Difficult level (1-10): 9

Stylistic Features:
Movements
1. Polycarp
2. Gaspard de Coligny
3. Jim Elliot

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and symphonic winds

Publisher: Enharmonic Press

Recording: NA

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Other comments:
In recent years, the term martyr has been corrupted from its original meaning which was ”one who would give up his life at the hands of others, rather than reject his faith.” More recently, the term has been broadened to include those who would, in the name of religion, destroy themselves and others for some perceived cause. The composer of the present work has been greatly bothered by this corruption of the word’s original meaning, and the present work is, in part, his attempt to bring attention back to the term in its original sense.

The first sketches for Martyrs for the Faith were begun on March 6, 2001, shortly after Kenneth Tse, for whom the composer had written his Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (2000) [now recorded by its dedicatee on Crystal Records] and a duo for alto sax and clarinet, Le Petit Duo. Work in earnest on the concerto had to wait until February of 2003, and the piece was completed in August of that same year. The concerto is cast in the usual three movements, each of which commemorates a particular martyr in the history of Christianity. Each of these individuals also represents a whole host of others, likely numbering in the millions, who have given their lives rather than deny their faith. Polycarp, the subject of the first movement, represents all those slain by the civil magistrates of their day. Challenged by the Roman proconsul to revile Jesus Christ in order to obtain his release, Polycarp state, “For 86 years have I been his servant, and he has done me no wrong. How then can I blaspheme my King who saved me?” This movement is based upon an actual 2nd‑century Christian hymn, first heard in the solo saxophone entrance, and developed throughout the movement.

The second movement, entitled Gaspard de Coligny, commemorates all those who have been martyred by others in the name of religion. In the case of Coligny (1519‑1572) ,the leader of the French Huguenot movement, it is all the more sobering to consider that he and his fellow Huguenots were slain by others professing Christianity themselves. Coligny, shortly before his martyrdom, affirmed his faith saying, “I am ready steadfastly to suffer that death which I have never feared and which for a long time past I have pictured to myself. I consider myself happy in feeling the approach of death and in being ready to die in God, by whose grace I hope for the life everlasting.” Heard in this movement is a hymn tune by Louis Bourgeois, the great Huguenot hymn writer. The hymn tune is introduced in the middle section of the movement depicting the St. Bartholomew massacre, in which many thousands lost their lives.

The martyr depicted in the final movement is Jim Elliot (1927‑1956), who was one of a group of five missionaries, with their wives, called to preach the gospel to the Waodani (sometimes referred to as Auca) Indians in Ecuador. After seemingly successful initial contact, he and his co‑laborers were martyred in a spear attack. Thus Jim Elliot and his colleagues can be considered to represent all of those who have been killed in their efforts to bring the Christian gospel to unchurched peoples. He is best known for his quote, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” This statement of his faith was found among his papers after his death. Heard in this movement are a few phrases of his favorite hymn, We Rest in Thee, along with phrases of the hymns used in the other two movements. Their use serves as more than a musical unifying device, but also suggests the historical continuity of the Christian faith from the apostolic times until the present day.

To fully reflect the symbolism intended in this work by its composer, the following directions should be observed if circumstances permit. First of all, the soloist should be dressed in a white suite or gown, to represent the righteousness of Christ which covers the believer. In each movement, spotlights of various colors should be focused on the soloist to suggest visually the circumstances of each martyr’s death. In the first movement, then, red is used to depict the fires which consumed Polycarp. In the second, the spotlight color is ultraviolet (or a deep purple) to suggest the dark ages. In the third movement, as the soloist musically goes into the jungle, a green spotlight is shown upon him to depict the place of his martyrdom. At the end of each movement, the color changes to white to represent the passage of the martyr’s soul into heaven.

Stylistically, the movements are also written to depict the times of the three martyrs’ lives. The opening movement seeks to evoke the harmonies of very early Christianity, while maintaining a contemporary idiom. The second movement is martial in character to depict the battle in which Coligny and his compatriots were martyred. The third movement uses the Brazilian samba rhythm to suggest the area of Jim Elliot’s service. In the middle section, depicting his martyrdom in the jungle, all kinds of wild noises are heard in the orchestration, which becomes increasingly more violent. This gives way to a solo saxophone statement of We Rest in Thee, and the work closes in a triumphal and virtuosic fashion.

Sonata for Alto Saxophone & Piano – David DeBoor Canfield

Composer: David DeBoor Canfield (born 1950)

Date of Composition: 2000

Country: USA

Dedication and premiere: Kenneth Tse

Kenneth Tse, saxophone
Richard Jobe, piano
February 19, 2001; Edmond, Oklahoma, USA

Duration: 13 minutes

Difficulty level (1-10): 8

Stylistic Features:Movements
Grazioso e semplice
Molto vivo
Ad libitum
Moto perpetuo

Instrumentation: alto saxophone and piano

PublisherEnharmonic Press

Recording: Crystal Records CD657

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Other comments:
Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (2000) was conceived for a festival of Canfield’s music at the University of Central Oklahoma, where its premiere was given on 19 February 2001 by Kenneth Tse.  The composer submitted the movements to the saxophonist as each was completed and took note of his responses.  Embedded in the work with special subtlety and as a surprise to Tse is his favorite hymn tune, William M. Runyan’s “Faithfulness” (1923), perhaps better known by the first line of its text “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.”  The unpretentious, but earnest sacred piece holds special meaning for Canfield as well.  In the third movement the tune appears in the saxophone line in truncated or otherwise altered forms; in the final movement references to it are heard in the keyboard part.  This compositional strategy—invoking once again the example of Charles Ives perhaps—connects the final two movements.  In a similar manner Movements I and II as well as Movements II and III are related to each other by the presence of common material.  The former relationship is built on a particular sequence of chords; in the latter instance, by common sonorities produced by translating the letters of the saxophonist’s surname into their musical equivalents:  T = uT (C); S = es (E flat); and E (E natural).  On either side of the reharmonized hymn tune in Movement III are cadenza-like passages in which the saxophonist is instructed to play into the strings of the piano while its damper pedal is sustained; as a result, an array of sympathetic vibrations produces a shimmering harmonic context for the soloist.  This display piece, which abounds in abstractions, seems notable for its seamless presentation; hymn tune quotations and jazz gestures associated with the saxophone proudly acknowledge the modern American tradition.