• Bent Lorentzen
  • Saxofonkoncert (1986)
    (Saxophone Concerto)

  • Edition Wilhelm Hansen Copenhagen (World)
  • Alto Saxophone
  • 23 min

Programme Note

The Saxophone Concerto for winds and percussion was composed by Bent Lorentzen in 1986 thanks to a grant made available by the Danish Arts Foundation. The work is dedicated to David Pituch who earlier had performed Lorentzen' s Round for solo saxophone on numerous occasions in Europe and the United States since its premiere at Aspekte Salzburg in 1981. Although the Saxophone Concerto bears little resemblence to the earlier Round both works treat the saxophone idiomatically in a new concert, even classical, sense.
Indisputably, the saxophone's most successful idiomatic usage to date can best be found in Jazz. In his own search for new, intrinsic qualities of the saxophone Lorentzen was also influenced by the standard classical saxophone repertoire as well as by avant-garde techniques now generally used by contemporary saxophone soloists. His perception of the natural characteristics of the saxophone, along with his affinity for Latin music, led Lorentzen to specific compositional decisions.
To begin with, the raw and rough power inherent in the saxophone itself caused the strings to be deleted from the traditional symphonic orchestra leaving only the individually stronger brass, woodwinds, piano, and percussion. The resultant symphonic wind ensemble orchestration then inspired the instrumentation of block harmonic structures treated in much the same manner as they are in big band arrangements. Alternating sections of short and long notes, described by the composer as dry and wet, are accompanied by rough and noisy rythmic figures. In some places the instrumentation even goes so far as to cover the solo saxophone with the intent of showing that each member of the orchestra is of equal rank to the soloist in true concertante style.
Another primary factor influenced by use of the saxophone was in the nature of the music itself. As in past instances where the saxophone has been used it once again inspired the use of freedom in music composition. In certain places of his Saxophone Concerto Lorentzen uses multiple, seemingly conflicting tempo markings (i.e., saxophone mm=l08 and woodwinds mm=l07) to destroy any strict sense of meter while at the same time maintaining a free flow of thematic movement. Likewise, the rough, noisy, raucous sound of the saxophone is used in the same optimistic, positive manner with which it is intended in more popular usage of the instrument, not by any present-day influences of minimalism.
Most importantly, the over-all construction of the work is based on the process of metamorphosis where the music is continually changing while in constant renewal rather than by any repetition of any previous musical material. The resultant through-composed one-movement Saxophone Concerto, seen in this light, can be rightly interpreted as the ultimate struggle for idiomatic identification of an instrument and its music through a process of continual rebirth and regeneration.
- David Pituch

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