CONN-O-SAX

Project Description

Conn-O-Sax
for solo alto-saxophone

  • composition date: 2015
  • duration: 6 min.
  • dedication: «for Luís Ribeiro, in deep friendship»
  • premiere: 12/07/2015  Strasbourg/France, Cité de la musique et de la danse | Salle d’Orgue
    Luís Ribeiro (saxophone)
    (within the program of SaxOpen – World Saxophone Congress)

Conn-O-Sax for solo alto-saxophone, forms part of a cycle of works for various solo instruments which started with Hornpipe (1997/rev.1999) for solo horn, and that already includes also Chirimia (2001-02/ rev.2012), for solo oboe or soprano-saxophone, and Alboque (2011) for solo clarinet. In the near future other pieces are planned, namely for marimba, flute and bassoon.

The main feature of this cycle is the extreme level of virtuosity required to the player, be it by the use of extended techniques amongst the most modern for each instrument (such as extreme registers, quarter-tones, flatterzunge, multiphonics, etc …), or the endurance needed for the performance. But all this is allied with a writing that is deliberately fantastical and, at least apparently, very free, almost improvisative, despite the extremely rigorous notation. Thus one of the goals of these pieces is also to appeal to the performer’s imagination.

Being a truly work in progress project (that I intend to develop along my career as a composer), this cycle immediately brings to memory one very famous predecessor, the Sequenzas by Luciano Berio. In fact I do not refuse their influence on my own solo oeuvres, especially the more “lyrical” side of Berio’s writing; actually in my “solos” I too tried to mingle, amidst all the virtuosity, a certain lyricism in the musical language that perhaps stems from my Mediterranean origins and the natural brightness so typical of the southern Europe countries.

The term conn-o-sax refers to a curious straight alto-saxophone (without the typical curved bell) tuned in F rather than the usual Eb. Invented by American company C.G. Conn Ltd. (also known as “Conn Instruments”) around 1929-30, it was ingeniously called a ‘mezzosoprano-saxophone’, and Conn’s ambition was to create a hybrid between the traditional alto-saxophone (in Eb) and the English-horn (in F). Their closest characteristic is the spherical bell of the Conn-O-Sax, shaped precisely on that of the English-horn. Fewer than 100 instruments built by Conn are still known to exist, and they are eagerly sought by saxophonists and collectors.

Conn-O-Sax was premiered on 10/July/2015 by Luís Ribeiro, to whom the work is dedicated, in Strasbourg (France), within the program of SaxOpen – World Saxophone Congress & Festival.


 

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