Performances (12/7/09): ASHU with Pacifica Quartet (Tucson) Erik Ronmark with Pacifica Quartet (Detroit, Chicago, Urbana, Calgary).
Published: Theodore Presser Company “The score and alto sax part is published by Theodore Presser Company; parts are available from them on request.”
Ellen Taaffe Zwilich emerged in the last two decades of the twentieth century as one of the most recognized and sought after composers in the classical music world. Her success reflects the firm foothold of so-called neo-Romanticism in contemporary orchestral repertoire and a move among many composers to find an expressive, intuitive musical language more resonant with universal human emotion than earlier, more fractious and detached twentieth century trends.
The composer writes: “I’m the kind of composer who has a ‘wish list’ of works I’m eager to write, but on occasion someone suggests an idea not on my ‘list’ that I find immediately exciting and the leads me in an unexpected direction. My Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet was inspired by such a suggestion. In honor of the diverse musical ideas stimulated by Jean-Paul Bierny’s suggested medium, I dedicate the piece to him.
“My ideal concept for chamber music is a conversation among equals, a conversation that is unique to the parties involved. In the instance the alto sax brings a luscious singing quality and a certain sassy attitude to the mix, while the strings offer their amazing agility and variety of articulation, color and phrasing. One of the great pleasures in writing (or playing or listening to) chamber music is that each player can be a virtuoso soloist one moment and a sensitive partner the next, and this ‘electricity’ becomes an agent of musical form.
“My Quintet for Alto Saxophone and String Quartet is in three movements: the first is slow (quarter note=66), the second is fast (quarter note =132), and the third is both slow and fast (quarter note=60; 126; 120).
Sponsored by: AFCM, Fontana Chamber Arts, Michigan State University, Detroit Chamber Music Society. AFCM sponsors: the Brussels Sprouts (Ghislaine Polak, Richard De Roeck, Jean-Paul Bierny)