ClefLogo  Concert 5 - Programme Notes

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Concert 5 Jonathan's photo by Karimage    

Concert No 5

8pm Saturday 12th January 2019
at Holmes Chapel Leisure Centre

Jonathan Radford (Saxophone)
Kaoli Ono (Piano)- 1st Half

Sponsored by the Countess of Munster Musical Trust   

  “the most gifted saxophonist of his generation”
- Internationally acclaimed saxophonist and composer, Richard Ingham

Chameleon Wind Ensemble - 2nd Half
RNCM Prize Winners

Anna Murphy (Flute), George Strickland (Oboe),
Jessica Tomlinson (Clarinet), Eleanor Mills (Bassoon)
and Freya Chambers (Saxophone)

Sponsored by a member of the Society   

The programme notes for this concert are:

Jonathan Radford (Saxophone) and Kaoli Ono (Piano)

Rapsodie for Alto Saxophone and Piano
by Claude Debussy 1862-1918

Debussy completed his Rapsodie for orchestra and alto saxophone in 1908, in response to an earlier commission from the American saxophonist Mrs Elise Hall, suggesting the possible future direction his music might have taken.

Listening to street hawkers crying their wares, Debussy managed to adjust these simple sounds to his extraordinary work for orchestra and saxophone. Nearly two years behind schedule and working late into the summer nights of 1903, Claude Debussy had only the oppressive heat to keep him company as Elise Hall, the “saxophone lady” from Boston, anxiously inquired about the status of her commission for “orchestre et saxophone obligé”; all the while his first wife, Lilly, waited for him to join her for vacation in the countryside of Bichain. These circumstances, initially irksome and exasperating, became the perfect catalyst for a struggling composer who hadn't written a note of music in nearly a year.

However, despite having been paid his fee on the commission from Hall in 1901 and from publisher Jacques Durand in 1903, Debussy inexplicably chose to retain the score of Rapsodie until his death in March 1918.

After the composer's death, Debussy's second wife, Emma (nèe Bardac), entrusted this manuscript, now entitled “Esquisse d'une ‘Rhapsodie Mauresque’ pour orchestre et saxophone principal,” to the composer's close friend, Jean Roger-Ducasse, an experienced orchestrator and music editor who worked during the spring and summer months of 1918 to extract a solo saxophone part, a piano reduction, and a full orchestral score.

Previous performance at HCMS concerts on 10th December 1988 by Neville Duckworth (Clarinet).


Danza Española No.1 from La vida breve
by Manuel de Falla 1876 -1946 arr. Jonathan Radford

De Falla was born in Cadiz on November 23, 1876 and died in Alta Gracia, Córdoba province, Argentina on November 14, 1946. He composed his opera La vida breve (The short life) at a feverish pace in 1904–05 for a composition competition that offered a substantial financial prize and the hope of a performance at one of Madrid’s theaters. With librettist Carlos Fernández Shaw, he settled on a tragic subject from one of Shaw’s poems, El chavalillo (The little lass), about a lover’s treachery because of class distinction. Falla won the competition by unanimous decision, but no performance materialized in Madrid—nor did a projected performance occur in Paris, where he soon settled.

After numerous revisions and many failed attempts for performance and publication, La vida breve was premièred in Nice on April 1, 1913, and in Paris the following January as part of a joint agreement. The critics raved! Among the opera’s most popular numbers is Spanish Dance No.1, a lively jota, which has since been arranged for a plethora of instrumental combinations, such as the present version for saxophone and piano by Jonathan Radford. In the opera, the dance is performed as part of the betrothal celebration for Paco and Carmela, the girl of his own class that he must marry instead of his beloved Salud, a Gypsy maiden.

© Jane Vial Jaffe Parlance Chamber Concerts Ridgewood, New Jersey, USA

This programme note has been kindly provided by the author who has given her permission for HCMS to make use of it.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Sonata Op.29 for Alto Saxophone and Piano
by Robert Muczynski 1929 – 2010
I. Andante maestoso      II. Allegro energico

Robert Muczynski was a Polish-American composer. He studied piano with Walter Knupfer and composition with Alexander Tcherepnin at DePaul University in Chicago, where he received both his Bachelor of Music degree and his Master of Music degree in Piano Performance.

A well-known work in the saxophone repertory, this Sonata was written in 1970 and dedicated to saxophonist Trent Kynaston. It comprises two movements.

Muczynski’s compositional style is characterised by distinctive motives and texture. Melodic lines in the Sonata are strong, and express mood and atmosphere through undulating dynamic use of tonal range, warm expression and dark, brooding lyricism. His typically rhythmic and percussive writing in the second movement frequently exploits irregular meter to great effect, which, combined with his artful use of both dynamic contrast and the saxophone’s extended tonal range, creates great excitement and drive. His pieces are designed to highlight the artistry of the performer and remain sympathetic to the idiom of their particular instrument, while logical development and clarity of intention are traits of Muczynski’s concise and unpretentious writing.

From notes by Signum Classics © 2008.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Impression d’Automne for Alto Saxophone and Piano
by André Caplet 1878 – 1925

André Caplet was a French composer and conductor. He took violin lessons at an early age and later studied piano, harmony and counterpoint. He was a distinguished student who won the prestigious ‘Prix de Rome’ in 1901 with his cantata Myrrha. By this time he had already begun a career as a conductor, conducting the Boston Opera from 1910 - 1914. He was a great admirer of Debussy, conducting the first performance of Le martyre de Saint-Sébastien. He joined the army but was gassed in the First World War and had to curtail his work. His later music became individual and esoteric. He orchestrated Debussy’s composition, Children’s Corner.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Jungle for Alto Saxophone
by Christian Lauba b.1952

Lauba was born in Sfax, Tunisia, in 1952. His family later settled in Bordeaux where he studied languages at the University of Bordeaux and music at the Bordeaux Conservatory. Since his graduation from the Conservatory during the mid-1980s, he has become a prominent contemporary composer, winning many prizes. Early in his compositional career, he worked with saxophonist Jean-Marie Londeix, and he is particularly noted for his compositions and teaching guides for the Saxophone, such as Nine Studies for Saxophones. In 1993, he was appointed professor of analysis at the Conservatory. It was here that he composed pieces that had extended techniques for the saxophone including slap tonguing, circular breathing, multiphonics and the altissimo register. He has also composed literature for other solo instruments as well as ensembles.

From 2004 to 2007, Lauba was artistic director of the Orchestre National Bordeaux Aquitaine and from 2004 to 2006, also its music director. In the 2007/2008 season he was composer in residence with the Orchestre Symphonique de Mulhouse (Mulhouse Symphony Orchestra), where his New York Concerto (a triple concerto for saxophone, cello and piano) received its world première.

Written through the commissioning and assistance of Jean-Marie Londeix between 1992 and 1994, Lauba’s Jungle is one in a series of Nine Études for Saxophones that showcase various extended techniques to produce an exotic soundscape. In Jungle, which lasts just three to four minutes depending upon performance tempo, these extended techniques provide a challenge for the performer.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Ouvre ton coeur from Spanish Serenade
by Georges Bizet 1838 -1875 arr. for Alto Saxophone and Piano

Georges Bizet (1838–1875) was a French composer in the Romantic era who excelled in school at the Conservatoire de Paris. Though he passed away very young, he made huge contributions to opera, and is most well-known for his opera, Carmen. He was heavily influenced by the works of Charles Gounod, another well known French composer.

Ouvre ton coeur (Open your heart), an art song with poetry by Louis Delâtre, is influenced by some of the same Latin flare and rhythm heard in Carmen. The singer initially turns away from love but calls to their partner to open their heart to them. The singer hopes that the daisy with closed petals will turn toward the sun.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Devil’s Rag for Alto Saxophone and Piano
by Jean Matitia b.1952

Jean Matitia is also known as Christian Lauba whose composition Jungle for Alto Saxophone was performed earlier in this programme. For some reason he composed under a pseudonym.

The title refers to the legend that Niccolo Paganini sold his soul to the devil in exchange for his superhuman technical abilities on the violin. Here the technical facility of both musicians is put to the proof.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Chameleon Wind Ensemble

Folk Suite
Traditional (arr. Jess Tomlinson, Josh Jones and Freya Chambers)
1. Scarborough Fair      2. Ar Lan Y Mor       3. Toss The Feathers      4. The Old Reinlender from Sonndala

When Chameleon first formed we discussed the use of different instrument combinations within the quintet to create a unique sound for our group, as well as adding a visual element to our performances. We also discussed how we could incorporate movement around the stage. Scarborough Fair and Ar Lan Y Mor were the first two to be written for our Folk Suite, representing places that members of the quintet (past and present) came from. Jess and George have family ties to Yorkshire, so Jess arranged Scarborough Fair, and our original saxophonist Josh arranged the Welsh Folk Tune Ar Lan Y Mor. Anna has family ties to Ireland which is where the tune Toss the Feathers comes from. Freya, our current saxophonist transcribed the final movement from an arrangement by The Danish String Quartet, and celebrates traditional Scandinavian Folk Music. This movement comes from Norway.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


Carnival of the Animals
by Camille Saint-Saëns (arr. George Strickland and Jessica Tomlinson)
1.Lions      2. Elephant      3. Swan      4. Aquarium

A large amount of our work is involved in outreach and workshops. This arrangement came about because we were asked to do a workshop on the piece, so we had to arrange it. This workshop went on to be our audition for the Live Music Now scheme, which we are now a part of, and completed our initial training and first performances for them at the end of last year. We have chosen a selection of our favourite movements for you today, which shows off a range of our instruments. As we use this for workshops, it is a part of our repertoire where we stick to only one or two instruments each, which creates more intimate arrangements of the work.

First performance at HCMS concerts.


West Side Story
by Leonard Bernstein (arr. George Strickland)

Three of our members were involved in a production of West Side Story at the RNCM last year, which is where this arrangement was born. Pit work is a common ground for all of the members of the quintet - we all "double" in theatres around the UK, so our first few arrangements were drawn from musical theatre and film. The music used comes from the Prologue, Somewhere, Mambo, Cha-Cha, Tonight and Maria, most of which also feature in Bernstein’s West Side Story Symphonic Dances suite. This seminal piece of musical theatre fuses many different styles of music from classical to vaudeville to Latin dances which is arguably why this work has stood the test of time. Also, as it was the first musical to begin with an extended dance section, it is great that we are able to perform the dance music as a separate suite.

First performance at HCMS concerts.



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