Friday, July 6, 2012

Saxophone and Cello

I’ve been performing with cellists since 2002. It all started for me when I bought Edison Denisov’s Sonata for saxophone and cello and went to look for someone to play it with me.  My current collaboration is with Steven Thomas, my colleague here at the University of Florida.  We’ve been playing together since 2008 and have performed for audiences in the United States, Canada, China, Japan, and France.  Watch for our newly recorded CD, Music for Saxophone and Cello, to be released by Centaur in early 2012.  Performing with cello has been a lot of fun. 

Now, saxophone and cello may seem like a rather unexpected instrumental combination.  Okay, it is an unexpected instrumental combination.  But, hey, we didn’t make this up.  Jean-Marie Londeix’s indispensable  Repertoire Universel de Musique pour Saxophone 1844-2003 lists thirty-eight original works for saxophone and cello duo written between 1965 and 2002. Others have been written since and we premiered another new one just a couple of weeks ago.

I find that the saxophone and cello can blend surprisingly well.  Truthfully, I am amazed at some of the sounds we make together.  To get an idea, you can hear a couple short audio excerpts on our web site at:

Steven Thomas and I have rehearsed together a LOT.  In my many years of playing chamber music I have found that with certain people ensemble playing and musical expression seem to just “click.”  Steven and I have this together.  Our musical ideas and sensitivity to the expressive needs of a particular piece tend to be very complimentary.  It is very nice to be in agreement, or to find that we have the same types of questions for a composer.  Also, it did not take us much time to learn to play together, with good ensemble.  The sound clips on our web site are taken from our very first concert together.  I am really thankful that Steven is willing to put in so much hard work to learn this repertoire.  Cellists have so much other great music they can be performing!

Several of the pieces in our repertoire have been with us since the beginning.  We have performed Edison Denisov’s Sonata for saxophone and cello(and a few other pieces) over 20 times. Living with music for several years, performing a lot, rehearsing and traveling together all make for an ensemble experience of significant depth and maturity.  Every time we come back to familiar music we are surprised at how well it goes together.  It’s like putting on a comfortable set of clothes; it just feels right.

We continue to add new music to our repertoire.  New music helps us grow as we face new challenges both technical and musical.  It also allows us to play return engagements at places that request it!  We’ve enjoyed performing a wide variety of pieces and, in many cases, working with the composers who created them.