Concerto after Mendelssohn (Konzert nach Mendelssohn)

for Tenor Saxophone and Wind Ensemble

  • Genre
    Solo Instrument with Wind Ensemble
  • Commissioned by/written for
    Dave Camwell
  • Year completed
  • Year revised
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Concerto after Mendelssohn was written between December 10, 2016 and January 26, 2017, and orchestrated from February 20th to March 8th of 2017. Not many people know that Mendelssohn was actually intending to write a concerto for Carl Traugott Queisser, the principal trombonist in his Leipzig Gewandhaus Orchestra. Unfortunately for trombonists and music lovers, the project was never realized, and consequently I thought that it might be worthwhile to attempt to write a trombone concerto that might have borne some similarity to the one that Mendelssohn never wrote. Shortly after I finished that version, I thought of making versions for bassoon and tenor saxophone, given the dearth of Romantic concerti for those instruments. These two versions are slightly longer than the trombone version, which the composer had to abridge for endurance factors. Since I like to take a differing approach in the works I write in my "After" series, for this work, I took the short bridge movement that links the second and third movements of Mendelssohn's E Minor Violin Concerto, and expanded it into an entire movement, more or less in the style of the German master. After a near-verbatim quote of this movement, I expanded and developed the thematic material along the lines of 19th-century German practice. Thus the first movement is written in modified sonata allegro form, with divergence from that form coming as the development section flows immediately out of the elaboration of the second theme in the relative major. Another novelty occurs after a short cadenza, where there is no coda, but only a reiteration of Mendelssohn's bridge movement. The second movement is in A-B-A song form, with an opening that features long lines in the solo instrument. A middle section shifts from Df Major to its parallel minor, Cs Minor, and picks up in activity and drama, with flourishes in the solo part undergirded by dramatic gestures in the accompaniment. The movement concludes with a modified and expanded reiteration of the opening statement. The work ends with a driving finale in modified rondo form. The movement is fast with a lot of notes, so I kept it brief, thinking there was enough activity for the listener to absorb in its three-minute duration. As in other "After" works in my output, I didn't concern myself too much with the places in this work that sound more like me writing in a 19th-century style than Mendelssohn, but Idid make an effort to incorporate the melodic gestures and harmonic sequences normally associated with this great composer. The development section of the first movement also utilizes a good bit of counterpoint to pay homage to Mendelssohn's rediscovery of the music of Bach, as does the inclusion of phrases from one of the latter's Chorales, Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme in the second movement. The listener will also note the not-so-subtle quote from Mendelssohn's ubiquitous Wedding March in the Finale, as well as the fact that the key relationships of the three movements in this work exactly mirror those of his E Minor Violin Concerto, albeit transposed up a semi-tone. This version of Concerto after Mendelssohn was premiered by Dave Camwell, conductor Garreth Jones, and the Alberta Winds on May 12, 2019.

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