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Maarten Bauer

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1 hour ago, Luis Hernández said:

What a beautiful and interesting work!

It's funny how the baroque feeling in the beginning blends well with the following parts. The solo soprano (with background) is amazing. I love the sound of this kind of quartet.


The Quartet that performs this piece is the Pornic Sax Quatuor.

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#6 Mark Watters - Rhapsody for Baritone Saxophone and Wind Orchestra (2001).

This Rhapsody is probably one of the most virtuosic pieces in the Baritone Saxophone repertoire. Mark Watters is next to a composer a saxophonist. In the recording below, he is the soloist.
The saxophone writing is so fluent that one can only expect that the composer plays this instrument: the music is hard, but still playable.

Unfortunately, there is not very much Baritone Saxophone music, except the Saxophone Quartets. This composition explains why contemporary composers should write more for this specific instrument.

NOTE: Only the score of the Baritone Saxophone is shown, but this still gives a very clear impression of the characteristics of the instrument.

Mark Watters - Rhapsody for Baritone Saxophone and Wind Orchestra (2001).


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#7 Iannis Xenakis - XAS (1987)

The following piece is considered as a member of the extremely 'avant garde' saxophone repertoire. Xenakis not only leaves the tonality, but rhythm, playing in tune and other techniques are very complex too.

Description by James Harley:

Iannis Xenakis was not known for his attraction to woodwind instruments, and certainly not to the saxophone. In fact, he wrote for this instrument but once. XAS, however, is a highly successful piece, and has entered into the repertoire for saxophone quartet. This composer was attracted to string instruments, and if one omits the vibrato from the sound, the pure tone of the saxophone can sound remarkably similar to a cello. In any case, after persistent requests from the Rascher Quartet, Xenakis penned his saxophone quartet, exploring a range of sonorities and extended techniques, and explicity forbidding the use of vibrato! One effect he scrupulously avoids is the glissando, perhaps to avoid any connotation of blues or jazz. He does evoke more far-reaching cultures, though, through the use of an original mode that sounds Oriental, and in fact is adapted from the five-note scale of the Javanese gamelan. XAS is an episodic work, flowing smoothly from one section to another. There is a tendency in the piece to focus on the high register, no mean feat for the poor baritone and tenor players, but the close-voiced harmonies are quite beautiful. Xenakis explores the possibilities of multiphonic sounds, where one player produces more than one tone simultaneously, to provide a raucous contrast to the sweet modal harmonies of other passages. The occasional use of microtones enhances the exotic resonances of the music.

Iannis Xenakis - XAS (1987)


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7 minutes ago, Luis Hernández said:

I knew this piece because of my inclination to XX century music. But I didn't know the details (as the non vibrato feature). No wonder it is in the repertoire.


Well, Harley tells that the (lower) saxophone can sound like a cello, but this is mostly caused by the same vibrato. Funny is that Xenakis forbis vibrato with the result that the whole cello effect is quite gone.

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#8 Mozart / Arr. Niels Bijl - String Quartet No.15 in D minor, Kv. 421a

Another beautiful compositions, this time an arrangement of one of Mozart's String Quartets. Note that the sounds and timbres of the four instruments blend extremely well. At some places the ensemble sounds like a pipe organ and sometimes it really sounds like string instruments.

This arrangement caused my to leave my aversion for the sax. I have yet to write for it, but I certainly will!

Mozart / Arr. Niels Bijl - String Quartet No.15 in D minor, Kv. 421a


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20 hours ago, DirkH said:

This arrangement caused my to leave my aversion for the sax. I have yet to write for it, but I certainly will!



The Aurelia Quartet is a Dutch saxophone quartet, which played an important role in introducing this ensemble to more people.
Of the four saxophonists, three of them are professors on conservatoria in The Netherlands: Johan van der Linden (Soprano); Arno Bornkamp (Tenor); Willem van Merwijk (Baritone). I talked with these three about saxophone and I had some lessons with Van der Linden.
The alto saxophonist is Niels Bijl.

Dirk, I will restate your post to keep the structure of this topic. Thanks for sharing!

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  • 2 weeks later...

#9 Paul Creston - Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Op.19 (1939)

Creston's Saxophone Sonata belongs to the standard list for saxophone repertoire. The music perfectly suits the instrument and Creston knows how to create a fine balance between the saxophone and piano. Furthermore, the melodies are beautiful and Creston develops these in many inventive ways.
Mind the large amount of vibrato, especially in the first part of the first movement. The amount of vibrato is normally left to the performer, but the 'taste' of performers about how much vibrato is wanted has varied through decades: in the time of Glazunov vibrato was considered as something that needed to be present. After a while, performers began to play less vibrato, because they wanted a clearer sound. After a few decades, the vibrato again came up and so forth...
In my opinion, this piece is one of the most beautiful pieces ever written for saxophone. The second movement reminds me me of Bozza's Aria, which will be shared in this topic as well.

*The score is in concert pitch.

Paul Creston - Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano, Op.19 (1939)


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  • 4 weeks later...

#10 Erwin Schulhoff - Hot Sonata (1930)

This is one of these saxophone pieces that really inspire me for writing for saxophones, but also other instruments accompanied by piano.
The thematic material and rhythms are very inventive.

In my opinion the saxophonist uses too much vibrato, but de gustibus non disputandum.
Note the glissando effects.

*The score is in concert pitch.

Erwin Schulhoff - Hot Sonata (1930)


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19 hours ago, Luis Hernández said:

This is a real fusion. The piano is not only a background. All the time is rhythmically active (and lots of linear harmony, which I like). And those cluster chords sound so smooth, wonderful. 

Great techniques in Mov III.


This piece reminds me of the rhythm in the Samba Lenta from the Cinq Danses Exotiques by Françaix.
It has the same power and lively atmosphere.

The harmonics are very nice too!
In my opinion, Schulhoff could have used the lowest register more effectively.

My interpretation of the peice is that it has to imitate the arabic musical sounds (therefore 'hot sonata').

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#11 Carter Pann - The Mechanics for Saxophone Quartet (2013)

(Description by Gianopoulos, 2017)

The Capitol Saxophone Quartet

I. Hoist is bold music that lifts itself upward and never falls down. The texture is very thick and replete with churning counterpoint.

II. Drive Train is fast music consisting of running eighth notes and quick turnabouts. It is almost always driving forward in a pseudo-Baroque frenzy.

III. Belt (to S.R.) is slower music set on a minimalist plain. As the movement matures the intervals get larger and the volume gets louder until a calm repose near the end.

IV. Flywheel is fast and angular jazz-jump music showcasing the baritone saxophone as a soloist accompanied by the other three players. When all four instruments come together in several places throughout the movement they play music that rolls forward on wheeling rhythms.

V. Balance is a slow, lyrical song. Every player takes the lead somewhere in this movement, singing beautifully over the texture. There are halted moments in this music that require the utmost balance in volume among all four saxophones together.

VI. Trash is straight-up turbo blues music. The theme upfront resembles that of a certain TV show from the 70s about a father/son garbage men duo. The music in the middle is more subdued call-and-response ragtime with a cheeky feel – all of it hanging on a texture of counterpoint about to boil over.


Note how bright the saxophones sound and how perfect the articulations and rhythms are played.
Advanced articulations and rhythms are very suited for all saxophones and Pann knows this and he uses this to achieve perfection.

Preceding videos showed how a saxophone quartet can sound like a string quartet or even an organ, but this is a great example of a piece for saxophone quartet that really sounds like a saxophone quartet: the sound and timbres are unique.

Carter Pann - The Mechanics for Saxophone Quartet (2013).



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  • 3 months later...

#12- Pedro Iturralde - Pequeña Czarda (1929)

This is a beautiful example of modern Spanish / Latino music for saxophone. It appears that

Although the music might sound easy, it certainly is not. Particularly, the last section, when the saxophonist needs to play a melody in the altissimo register and glissandi.
Intonation can be hard too. Note that there is almost always legato when a saxophone needs to play a fast passage, because this is much easier than staccato or 'normal' playing ways.

Note the beautiful cadenza, in which the performer plays with different fingerings, which slightly change the pitch of the note. Furthermore, the saxophonist uses key clicks, which also produce pitches in the form of the melody.

Pedro Iturralde - Pequeña Czarda for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1929)


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