Saxophone concerto : for alto saxophone and orchestra
by Jennifer Fowler (2010)
Also known as: Concerto for alto saxophone and orchestra
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On first hearing the saxophone soloist, Amy Dickson, I knew immediately that I wanted to write a piece for her. She makes a beautiful sound and has the utmost musicality in everything she plays. I am grateful to the Whitehall Orchestra in London and the RVW Trust for giving me the opportunity to write something for Amy, by commissioning this piece. I am also delighted that the Ku-ring-gai Philharmonic is taking up the challenge of presenting the Australian premiere. The concerto is in four movements: rather slow; rather fast; slow; fast. The first movement has, as its guiding principle, a wave form. It begins softly in the orchestra with a slowly rising surge followed by a faster downward curve. The soloist then enters with a phrase which unfolds, tightly at first, then stretches out and up. This is followed by several downward phrases. Thereafter the movement continues with rising and falling phrases in a series of melodic waves, led by the soloist and echoed in the orchestra. The second movement is more playful and sparkles with staccato and light dancing rhythms. These flexible rhythmic patterns are grouped in bundles of twos and threes and fours. Every so often the forward motion comes to rest on a cadential group which recurs as a closure to each stanza. Each new section of the movement is introduced by an outburst from the whole orchestra. The third movement begins with the orchestra in an apprehensive mood with pizzicato strings and plangent woodwind. The solo part is smoothly melodic and is characterised by aching intervals and drooping phrase ends. A significant role is taken by the sound of the oboe alongside that of solo saxophone. Towards the end of the movement there is a succession of three violent outbursts from the orchestra, each slightly longer than the previous. The movement ends quietly, as it began. The last movement begins with the side drum, which continues to have a significant role in this more percussive and dynamic movement. Against an orchestral texture of off-beat rhythms, the solo saxophone leads its own imagined narrative: first with quirky twists and turns in a limited middle range, then expanding and leaping athletically into a wider register as the movement draws to a climax. Jennifer Fowler
Instrumentation: Solo alto saxophone, 2 flutes (2nd doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 2 clarinets in B flat, 2 bassoons, 2 horns in F, 2 trumpets, timpani, percussion (1 player), strings.
Duration: 22 min.
Difficulty: Advanced — Professional soloist; professional or good amateur orchestra
Contents note: In 4 movements.
- In the form/style of: Concertos
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