August 15, 2007
I blogged about two weeks ago that I’d written the end of the sax concerto. I wasn’t clear about it, but I meant that I had written the end — I wasn’t finished. I had written only the end of the last movement — not the beginning of the last movement. All I had two weeks ago was the last 30 seconds.
I had set a deadline for myself of August 15 to finish the short score of the finale — and somehow, I made it. So, for the curious, here it is: a PDF of the short score of the entire last movement, cadenza included. (I still have to write the short first movement — so I’m not totally finished yet.) Please note that this is the short score, and it’s entered for MIDI playback, not for practical notation, so they dynamics are for my sampler. No note spellings have been corrected, and there are MIDI and tempo commands all over the place. It’s really more to show the process than the finished product.
This piece is wicked hard, but I’ve been assured that it’s doable. And really, isn’t that the point of a concerto? — to feature an instrument, and to make most people, even those who can play the featured instrument, think, Wow, that doesn’t seem humanly possible. You don’t want some concerto that anybody can play, right?
So that’s this movement: just on this side of what’s possible, and hopefully only possible for the best of the best.
To tie the piece together structurally, this movement pulls material from two earlier movements, “Felt” and “Metal.” It also contains a quote from one of my favorite pieces of all time, and, in my opinion, the best concerto written for any instrument in the past hundred years. No worries; I asked for permission, so hopefully there won’t be a lawsuit. It’s only 4 bars, but it’s the best 4 bars of my piece.
In a nicely-meta way, it’s a quote of a quote. I quoted John Corigliano’s Clarinet Concerto. The quote I pulled is, in itself, a quote — of Gabrieli’s work, “Sonata Pian e Forte.” Corigliano quoted it because it was likely the first work written for antiphonal musicians, and his concerto fully exploits that technique. I quoted the Corigliano because, well, it’s brilliant, and that piece has been a shadow hanging over me the whole time I’ve been writing my concerto. Before I started my piece, I said that the bar should be set at the level of Corigliano’s concerto. I, most certainly, failed to even approach that, but it was good to have a goal, right? And I have to say, the measures of my piece that quote Corigliano’s piece are pretty damn sweet. Who knew that Corigliano would sound so good with a soprano sax on top?
To thank him, here’s a picture of Corigliano in my mirrored aviators.