ClefLogo  Concert 5 - Programme Notes

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Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet     

Concert No 5

8pm Saturday 20th January 2018
at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre

Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet

Making Music Selected Artists

Sally MacTaggart, Guy Passey,
Jenni Watson and Alastair Penman

"Entirely irresistible" - The Times

The programme notes for this concert are:

Holberg Suite Op.40
by Edvard Grieg 1843 – 1907
I: Praelude – Allegro vivace
II: Sarabande – Andante
III: Gavotte – Allegretto, Musette – poco piu mosso
IV: Air – Andante religioso
V: Rigaudon – Allegro con brio

Despite the fact that Ludvig Holberg (1684-1754) lived most of his life in Denmark and was considered the father of Danish literature, his birthplace was Bergen, Norway, and on the bicentenary of his birth, Norwegians heartily celebrated. They were pleased to acknowledge Holberg, and Grieg, also a Bergen native, was one of those who directed the planning for the event. He wrote two works, one of which was this suite entitled From Holberg's Time: Suite in Olden Style. Grieg himself premièred the piano suite just days after the dedication of the memorial.

Its great success led Grieg to score it for string orchestra the following year, and both versions enjoy enduring popularity. The suite in five sections was intended by Grieg to recall the dance suites that might have been heard during Holberg's lifetime, which roughly corresponded to the period of the late Baroque.

Previous performance at HCMS concerts by the Manchester Sinfonia on 21st April 2012.


Three Preludes
by George Gershwin 1898- 1936
1. Someone to watch over me
2. The man I love
3. Fascinating Rhythm

George Gershwin was an American composer and pianist who was the son of Russian Jewish migrants who went to the U.S.A. in 1893. Their family name was Gershovitz. He left school at the age of 15 to work as a pianist and 'song plugger' for a publishing company. His first Broadway musical was La La Lucille written in 1919 and for the next 14 years his musicals dominated life on Broadway.

His first outstanding hit was Swanee made famous by Al Johnson. He developed a link between jazz and the classical idiom which is epitomised in Rhapsody in Blue for piano and orchestra. His compositions straddled the boundary between commercial music and serious classical compositions.

The Three Preludes [1926] are among the best of hundreds of songs composed by Gershwin. The composition influenced Åstor Piazzolla to write his Three Preludes in 1987.

Previous performances at HCMS Concerts by Emma Johnson (Clarinet) & Gordon Back (Piano) on 25th September 1993, by Nemo Brass Quintet on the 17th of April 1999, by Kathryn Stott (Piano) and Federico Mondelci (Saxophone) on 23rd March 2002 and Amy Dickson (Saxophone) and Catherine Milledge (Piano) on 15th March 2008.


Allegro ma non troppo (first movement) from String Quartet No.12 in F major, Op.96 American
by Antonín Dvořák 1841 – 1904

In September 1892 Dvořák took up his duties as Director of the American National Conservatory of Music in New York. The following June he went to spend the summer visiting the small farming community of Spillville, Iowa, the home of Czech immigrants who preserved there the language, customs and culture of their homeland. In a mood of quiet relaxation there he sketched this quartet in the six days between 5 and 11 June 1892 and it was first played by Dvořák and three students on 23 June. It instantly became one of his most popular works. Although initially earning the nickname "Nigger", it became known as "The American" in more enlightened times. There is some controversy over whether Dvořák actually used Indian or native American tunes, but the general feeling is that he absorbed the feel of folk music, both European and American, in forming his own unique gift of melody.

The Allegro begins with a jaunty viola tune against a shimmering background, with the second subject a more tentative and restrained theme from the first violin. Both are based on the five-tone pentatonic scale (the black keys of the piano) which is a common basis for many of the world's folk tunes. The development is devoted to the first theme until a fugato based on the second subject leads to the restatement of both.

Pervious performances of the complete American String Quartet at HCMS concerts on 6th January 1979 by the Lindsay String Quartet and the Royal String Quartet on 22nd November 2008.


Italian Concerto in F major BWV971
by Johann Sebastian Bach 1685 – 1750

Bach absorbed the concerto style by transcribing (usually violin) concertos by Italian composers such as Vivaldi, Marcello and other Italians for solo keyboard (Weimar 1713-16). The Toccata in G (BWV 916) composed in Weimar c.1710 with its three movement structure and clear solo/tutti feel is an early exploration of the form, whilst his violin concertos date from the period 1717-23 when he was in Cöthen. By contrast the Italian Concerto did not appear until 1735 in Leipzig, by which time Bach had thoroughly assimilated the concerto style. It was published in the second volume of the four part Clavier-Übung project. Published between 1731 and 1741 this comprehensive ‘keyboard practice’ showed Bach as both keyboard virtuoso and composer, and he selected for inclusion genres and compositional types with broad appeal.

Previous performance at HCMS concerts on 6th November 1976 by Virginia Black (Harpsichord), 8th December 1984 by Melvyn Tan (Piano), 14th December 2002 by Musical Offering (Harpsichord, Violin, Cello), and on 19th January 2008 by Murray McLachlan (Piano).


Chrysalis Moon
by Andy Scott b 1949

Andrew David "Andy" Scott is a Welsh musician and songwriter. He is best known for being the lead guitarist and a backing vocalist in the band Sweet. Chrysalis Moon was composed in 1985 and recorded on the Sax Assault CD Bang!, and performed by Tim Redpath, Iain Ballamy, Rob Buckland and Jim Muirhead. It has subsequently been revised and recorded by the Eclipse Saxophone Quartet. Scored for three soprano saxophones and alto saxophone, Chrysalis Moon is a gentle piece that includes an "open" section for an improvised solo in the soprano 2 part.

First performance at HCMS concerts. My First Scooter from Travel Cartoons for the Blind by Django Bates b 1960

Django Bates (born 2 October 1960) is a British composer, multi-instrumentalist, band leader and educator. Bates was born in Beckenham Kent and attended Sedgehill School. While at this school Django attended the Centre for Young Musicians in London (1971–77), where he learnt to play the trumpet, piano, and violin. In 1977-78 he studied at Morley College and enrolled at the Royal College of Music to study composition, but he left after two weeks.

Django plays the piano, keyboards and the tenor horn and writes large-scale compositions on commission. He has been described as "One of the most talented musicians Britain has produced, and his work covers the entire spectrum of jazz, from early jazz through bebop and free jazz to jazz-rock fusion.

My First Scooter was written for the Apollo Saxophone Quartet and is part of a larger work entitled Travel Cartoons for the Blind. The piece depicts four scenes from childhood. The composer writes beautifully for the instruments, describing toy trucks, a paper boat, a rocking horse and finally a scooter. It is scored for four soprano saxophones, with two of them tuned a quarter-tone flat to make the grating sound of an over enthusiastic youngster constantly honking on the horn of the afore-mentioned scooter.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


by James Macmillan b 1959

James MacMillan is a Scottish composer of contemporary classical music. He has composed a diverse catalogue of music which currently numbers over two hundred works.

The composer has written the following note about this composition called Intercession:-

"The piece begins with a slowly falling scale of seven notes, thrown from one player to another, repeated nine times and embellished with ornamental flurries which outline a gradually evolving harmonic pattern. The repetitive nature of the music is like a peal of bells or some other kind of evocation. Eventually the music breaks out of this cyclic inevitability and heads into a faster dance-like material which in turn develops its own ritualistic recurrences."

The score and parts are intended for oboes at sounding pitch or for soprano saxophones sounding a tone lower than notated.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Bordell 1900 and Café 1930 from Histoire du Tango
by Åstor Piazolla 1921 - 1992

Piazzolla is one of the most famous 20th century composers. His main influence was on the Tango. His changes and modernizing influence on the Tango caused a lot of controversy in his native Argentina. He lived in Mar del Plata, Argentina, and in Buenos Aires, where the Tango took form. He was born on March 11 1921 and by the age of four had moved to New York City where apart from one year in Argentina he lived until he was 17. At the age of 13 he was invited to tour as a Bandoneon player with the great tango master Carlos Gardel and his band. His father refused, feeling that he was too young. During the tour Gardel and the whole band perished in a plane crash. Later Piazzolla would joke that if it hadn't been for his father he would have been playing Harp instead of a Bandoneon.

He termed the phrase ‘Nuevo Tango’ and introduced elements of classical music and jazz. His studies with Nadia Boulanger in Paris had a cathartic influence on his style. Despite resistance to his music in Argentina, it was a hit in Europe. Histoire du Tango was written for flute/guitar duo Sergio and Odair Assad and tells the history of the Tango in thirty year intervals.

Previous performances at HCMS concerts by Kathryn Scott (Piano) and Federico Mondelchi (Saxophone) on 23rd March 2002, by Craig Ogden (Guitar) and Gerard McChrystal (Saxophone) on 12th December 2009 by Huw Wiggin (Saxophone) and James Sherlock (Piano) on 17th November 2012 by Elen Hydref (Harp) and Helen Gourd (Flute) on 22nd November2014 and on 12th November 2016 by Sarah Bennett (Flute) and Olivia Jaguers (Harp).

© Programme notes by Dr Martin Hudson.



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