Friday, September 23, 2011

Unusual concertos [8]: (Alto) Saxophone

Before the purge of end 2008, one of the most popular topics of this blog was "Unusual concertos", classical concertos for all kinds of instruments and orchestra. I have decided to revive this, aiming for less familiar composers in general. In its original incarnation, I came to 40 different concertante instruments - aiming for 50+ this time.

The eighth concerto deals with the alto saxophone, a member of the saxophone family of woodwind instruments invented by Belgian instrument designer Adolphe Sax in 1841. It is smaller than the tenor but larger than the soprano, and is the type most used in classical compositions - if the description of a concerto just says "saxophone" it will be the alto version. It took until 1934 before a major composer wrote a concerto for the instrument: Alexander Glazunov's Concerto in E flat major, which is still one of the finest in the repertoire. Later efforts include concertos by Creston, Denisov, Ibert, Aho and Larsson. I have selected the 1949 concerto by Ingolf Dahl as the example, in the version by John Harle with the New World Symphony under Tilson Thomas from a Phoenix CD.

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