A concerto in three movements, for alto sax and small orchestra, with a mix of modal, atonal and diatonic styles
- 13 minutes
The Concerto for Alto Saxophone and chamber orchestra was completed in 2012, a transcription of the Bassoon Sonata (Op.36).
Lasting about 13 minutes, it has three movements: Vivo – Larghetto - Allegretto con spirito. The work is lightly scored for the most part, to highlight the soloist, and there is cross-referencing of motifs throughout the three movements.
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 orchestra converses contrapuntally throughout, developing numerous short motifs in a variety of ways.
The central movement is expressive, melancholy and desolate. The rhythm is more regular here – largely a steady 6/8 flow, but harmonically, the chromatic style is almost atonal to enhance this forlorn atmosphere. The movement explores the entire range of the saxophone, and the orchestra reinforces the bleak atmosphere, once again sharing melodic and rhythmic motifs with the soloist. It concludes plaintively with reiterations of the saxophone’s initial four notes.
The finale reverts to a more relaxed, and uplifting, mood. However, the prevalent augmented fourth interval prevents true stability and harmonic resolution. The saxophone’s initial scalic motif also has a mock Baroque flavour. This originates from a solitary motif (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 finale derives from its very first bar, and constantly develops this material.