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The Abundant Air: Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Band (2003)
Dedicatees: West Point Saxophone Quartet, U.S. Military Academy Band, Col. Thomas Rotondi, Jr.
Premiere: West Point Saxophone Quartet, U.S. Military Academy Band, Col. Thomas Rotondi, Jr. United States Military Academy, West Point, Eisenhower Hall, April 16, 2004
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Performed by Kenneth Tse and the Escher String Quartet.
The Saxophone Part is also available separately.
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.
Performed Craig Ogden, guitar & Gerard McChrystal, soprano saxophone
From the CD: Perfect State: The Music of Ciaran Farrell
The Australian recorder player Jo Dudley commissioned this brief, virtuosic solo.
Ulpirra is an Aboriginal word meaning pipe or flute. It has been performed and recorded on many different treble instruments apart from the recorder: piccolo, flute, oboe, B-flat and E-flat clarinets, a special version for bass clarinet with handclapping accompaniment in Enyato IV, and soprano or alto saxophone.
Being short and snappy it is especially useful as an encore piece for recitals.