Work: Saxophone Concerto
About This Work
During his stay in Paris late in life, Glazunov heard the saxophone-rich band of the Garde Républicaine and was inspired to write two saxophone works: a chamber piece for four saxophones and this concerto for alto sax and string orchestra.
Glazunov seems immune to the saxophone jazz that had invaded Paris; the concerto is entirely classical, although it does include some of the mildly folk-like themes akin to what Glazunov had employed in his earlier Russian scores. The one-movement work is a free rhapsody, essentially lyrical and sometimes melancholy, with a few extroverted scherzo interjections. For the most part, the strings keep to an unobtrusive supporting role. The tempo frequently changes and the concerto requires the soloist to demonstrate every musical skill: smooth, cantabile playing in the many slow sections; tonal control across a wide dynamic range as the melody winds up and down the scale; and, in the most intricate, animated passages, nimble fingering and effective glissandos. At almost the exact midpoint, the saxophone takes a long, increasingly agitated cadenza that dies away into a pathetic, sighing gesture; this is the basis of a sardonic transition to what initially seems to be a tarantella finale. Glazunov doesn't maintain the dancing rhythm all the way to the end, though; the soloist reminisces about the earlier, more lyrical themes while remaining animated, and the concerto concludes with trills and conventional bravura gestures.
-- James Reel, All Mujsic Guide
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