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Performed by Glenn Murray
This work represents my first attempt at writing a substantial work for the violin and I am thrilled to dedicate it to my dear friend, Glenn Murray. Glenn and I have beed friends for twenty years now and it is largely thanks to him that I have been able to find the inspiration to write this work. Over the years Glenn has shared not only his wealth of string playing knowledge but also well his great collection of violin recordings with me.
I purposely set out to write a violin work that is different from most of the other standard repertoire works for the violin. Each movement represents a style of music that I enjoy writing and listening to and it is hoped that performers that select this work to play with also listen to the musical styles that each movement requires some aural awareness of. After all, I believe that as composers that we can never fully write everything that we hear in our heads on the page and that at least 30 percent or more of the stylistic content and tonal nuances has to be provided by the performer’s experience and technical expertise of the style that they are interpreting. Some of the more obvious stylistic forms present in this work are:
Cheers and enjoy! Andy Firth (Sept. 2012).
Contents: Ireland Home, Lullaby, Goodbye, All My Best, Far From Home, The English Gardener, Solitaire, Waves, Adieu
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.