Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra

Ronald Caltabiano

Rental
Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra was completed in 1983 and received its premiere by the San Francisco Symphony in 1986. It is in one movement and has a duration of about twenty-two minutes.

In addition to the confrontational relationship of soloist and orchestra inherent in most concerti, here the two have another relationship: The orchestra introduces a large number of disparate, seemingly unrelated motives; the saxophone relates them and, over the course of the work, combines them into a single melody.

The relationship is heard from the outset, where the orchestra exposes three themes: long held notes in descending minor seconds, accompanied by explosive percussion and alternating with abrasive horn fanfares; quiet falling fourths in solo strings with vibraphone; and a jazz-like figure of ascending major thirds in the winds, accompanied by the hi-hat. These build to a climax, interrupted by a cadenza that begins to join the ideas. Three more themes are orchestrally introduced, each with a featured interval and specific accompanying percussion, and a second cadenza parallels the first. The introduction is brought to a close with the statement of three final motives.

In an Andante Cantabile, the saxophone presents a long, flowing line that is the ornate cantus on which the piece is based. Throughout the sections that follow, the cantus will be thinned down as ornamentation is added in the form of overlapping themes presented by the orchestra. These opposing tendencies of thinning and ornamentation, combined with the saxophone?s struggle to combine and make coherent sense of the orchestral themes, take the place of traditional development. The work continues in parallel to the introduction, with each of three sections building to a climax. Finally, the saxophone sustains a piercing high F over stabbing orchestral chords, bringing the music to a halt. A cadenza recapitulates all the motives and nearly completes the combining process. Finally, a coda allows the soloist to play a sustained, dolce melody that unites the materials in an unbroken line accompanied only by quiet chords in the strings.

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Additional Information

Composition Date 1983
Duration 00:20:00
Orchestration Solo A.Sax.; 2(Picc.) 2(E.H.) 2(EbCl., B.Cl.) 2 - 4 2 2 1; Timp. 3Perc. Str.
Premiere October 1986. San Francisco Symphony, Paul Cohen, saxophone, Leif Bjaland, conductor; Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA