Music for Saxophones and Strings

Steven Stucky

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Publisher: Merion Music, Inc.
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

Like many composers, I grew up knowing little about the saxophone family. Yet, like the string family, it boasts a perfect blend of tone, an incomparable unanimity of articulation, and a rich range of expression. The saxophone quartet is thus surprisingly comparable to the string quartet as a classic chamber music medium, while in the concerto format it provides a worthy counterweight to the string orchestra. At times, the saxophones in my Music for Saxophones and Strings whisper, murmur, sigh, sing, squeal, or even scream. Against such a diverse repertoire of sonic behaviour, the strings are content mostly to form a modest backdrop.

The music falls into two main sections, or movements (played without pause). In the opening slow movement, the atmosphere is dark, nocturnal, troubled. The language is densely chromatic. Mysterious, barely audible rustlings become increasingly more alarming; creatures cry in the night; and the movement climaxes in a lyric outpouring of melancholy, even tragic character. The music subsides by way of cadenzas for the baritone and tenor saxophone.

The second, fast movement arrives almost unnoticed, since at first it too is made up of disconnected fragments ? quirky, skittish, playful. There are irregular rhythmic accents, gliding quarter-tone runs, scurrying saxophone figures (suggesting, perhaps, a distant echo the bebop style), and screaming excursions into the altissimo register. Briefly the melancholy of the slow, nocturnal opening returns, before a quick coda leads to an emphatic conclusion.

The work was commissioned by the city of L

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Additional Information

Commission Commissioned by the city of L
Composition Date 1996
Duration 00:16:00
Orchestration Solo Sax. Quartet and String Orchestra
Premiere 15th May, 1996. Rasch

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