Concerto after Khachaturian

for Alto/Soprano Saxophones or Clarinet and Orchestra

  • Genre
    Solo Instrument with Orchestra
  • Commissioned by/written for
    State Youth Orchestra of Armenia
  • Year completed
  • Year revised
  • Timing
  • Catalog number
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  • copies sold
  • 1
    known performances
  • General notes

Premiere of Concerto after Khachaturian in Yerevan, Armenia, October, 2016

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Dedicated to the people of Armenia in celebration of the 25th anniversary of Armenian independence, my Concerto after Khachaturian for Alto and Soprano Saxophones (one player) and Orchestra was, at the suggestion of Armenian saxophonist Hayrapet Arakelyan, commissioned by the State Youth Symphony Orchestra of Armenia. Over the course of many centuries, the country has been invaded and oppressed by various people groups, and consequently, I have attempted to capture something of the history of the country in the present work, which is cast in the traditional three movements. The opening movement is subtitled, "The Birth of Armenia," and is a mostly vigorous movement, including a dramatic opening. It also contains a center section that is full of mystery to suggest the dawn of the country, the beginning of which is somewhat obscured by the mists of time. During the course of this movement, the listener will note the use of two tunes drawn from Khachaturian's own Concerto for Violin and Orchestra or, more precisely, old Armenian folk tunes utilized by Armenia's most famous composer in that work. The second movement, subtitled "Faith and Trials," recognizes Armenia's status as the first Christian nation. Tradition says that two of Jesus' Apostles--Thaddeus and Bartholomew--established the Church in that country, and in 301 A.D., it became officially Christian. The Christian faith is suggested by the ancient chant that opens the movement. A dramatic and fast center section musically depicts the onslaughts of various countries against Armenia, and the galloping rhythms heard in this section are intended to portray the horses of the marauding invaders. These brutal attacks culminated in the genocide against Armenians by the Ottoman Turks in 1915–16.A moment of silence concludes this section, and the movement closes with a hymn, Der Voghormia, to suggest the sustaining power of the Christian faith through every trial. The composer thought the text most appropriate for this context, as it contains a plea to God for peace, healing, and eternal rest for those who have died. The finale, "Celebration," commemorates the 25 years of freedom that began for Armenia on October 16, 1991. This independence was not the first in the history of Armenia, but the people of the country look forward to this period of freedom extending indefinitely Consequently, the movement is upbeat throughout, and is the only part of the concerto cast in a major key. There are, however, a few sections that reflectively recall the past trials of the country, and are intended to remind the listener that freedom comes only through the sacrifice of the lives of many. The exuberant close of the work makes a not very subtle reference to Khachaturian's most famous work, the "Sabre Dance" from his popular ballet, Gayaneh. work, the "Sabre Dance" from his popular ballet, Gayaneh. Styllistically, the Concerto pays hommage to its namesake, using figuration, melodies, harmonic sequences and other things to suggest his style. There are places, notably in the second movement where Canfield has sought more to portray events in the history of Armenia than to model the music after any one composer. As in other of his "After" Concertos, he has also allowed his own compositional voice to emerge in certain places, while seeking to produce a work that is organically unified as a piece of music. Concerto after Khachaturian was premiered by Hayrapet Arakelyan and the Aram Khachaturian Symphony Orchestra conducted by Sergey Smbatyan in Yerevan on October 6, 2016.

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