Richard Lambert Music

Sonata for alto saxophone and piano (Op.36a)

A sonata for alto sax and piano in three movements, with a mix of modal, atonal and diatonic styles

The Sonata for alto saxophone and piano was written in 2011, a transcription of the Sonata for bassoon and piano (Op.36). Lasting about 13 minutes, it has three movements: Vivo – Larghetto - Allegretto con spirito.

The first movement is free-ranging tonally, continually developing the initial saxophone material – a neo-Baroque motif with prominent use of a minor seventh interval. The time signature is continually changing, predominantly between 2/4 and 3/8, to give a highly-charged rhythmic, and perhaps unsettled, effect.

The central movement is expressive, melancholy and desolate. The rhythm is more regular here – largely a steady 6/8 flow, but harmonically, the highly chromatic style is almost atonal to enhance this forlorn atmosphere. The movement explores the entire range of the saxophone, and the piano accompaniment converses contrapuntally, sharing the numerous motifs with the saxophone. It concludes plaintively with reiterations of the saxophone’s initial four notes.

The finale reverts to a more relaxed, and uplifting, mood. The saxophone’s initial scalic motif also has a mock Baroque flavour. This originates from a solitary piano figure (bar 202) in the first movement. In fact, these outer movements have numerous melodic and harmonic links to consolidate a sense of overall organic shape. Ultimately, the whole movement derives from its very first bar, and constantly develops this material.


  1. 5 November 2012 at the Hellenic American Union Theater in Athens. Theofilos Sotiriadis (saxophone) and Angelika Papanicolaou (piano). The concert was organised by Nikos Panagiotakis of the Greek Composers’ Union in co-operation with the Hellenic American Union, the Hellenic American Education Center, and the Musical Praxis Conservatory



You can view and purchase the score of the Sonata for alto saxophone and piano from Forton Music (FM816)


This recording of Sonata for alto saxophone and piano was produced using computer software called Sibelius: it is not a live recording.


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