Composer: Perry Goldstein (born 1952)
Date of Composition: 2006-7
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
I. Bright and exuberant
II. Heartfelt and singing
III. Dancing, yet driving
Instrumentation: alto saxophone and string quartet
Publisher: Reed Music
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.