Sonata for Tenor Saxophone and Piano

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  • Commissioned by/written for
    Kenneth Tse
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  • Year revised
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The Sonata for Tenor Saxophone and Piano (2011) is the only of my saxophone works to have been recorded before it received its premiere. This work may be fairly stated to be the culmination of the works that I have written for Kenneth Tse to date, in that it not only closes the cycle of four sonatas, but also incorporates and amplifies elements from each of the other pieces: The quasi-atonality in portions of Paradosis becomes full-fledged in parts of the second movement of this sonata, just as the lyricism in the alto sonata and Fisherman of the Fragrant Harbor reaches full bloom in the tenor sonata's third movement, which utilizes key signatures throughout. Certain special effects from the earlier pieces, including inside-the-piano devices, and the performer playing into the piano to produce sympathetic resonances are to be found herein also, along with cadenzas in both of the last two movements. In short, this work is one of extremes and contrasts, and the virtuosity level for both soloist and pianist peaks above that of the other works. The contrasts are perhaps most pronounced in the second movement which alternates between atonality and tonality expressed with key signatures. Originally intending to make this work a heavily jazz-influenced piece, I changed my mind after writing the first few chords (which are jazz chords, to be sure), largely avoiding jazz until the final movement, which has a couple of jazz figurations thrown into the mix. As in earlier works, I have emphasized the tonalities of E-Flat (movement II), E (movement III) and C (movement IV) to personalize the sonata for Tse. The main theme of the last movement, in fact, is spun out from these three pitches. Brought back also from the first (alto) sonata is a short snippet of the hymn, "Great is Thy Faithfulness." The tenor sonata was indeed a good outlet for me, given that I write in a variety of styles from one piece to the next. In this case, this concatenation of styles showed up in the same work.

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