The score of Three Angels is a representation of sound and texture rather than a prescription of sound. The composition is similar to a painting, comprising of a background texture, percussive interjections and a solo voice.
All the parts in Three Angels blend into an overall texture:
The solo melody is more haunting and distant than prominent.
The multiphonics are vocal in nature, some delicate, others almost like subdued screams, contrasted with percussive interjections.
The saxophone parts guide the player: fingerings for the required techniques are shown along with conventional notation for the solo melody.
Nine Pieces for Five Players by renowned composer and saxophonist Richard Ingham was originally commissioned and written for the Plume Quintet. The original wind quintet version was later rewritten as a saxophone quintet for the Quirk saxophone quartet, becoming a standard SATB quartet with additional soprano. Five of the movements highlight each of the players in turn.
In July 2019 Quirk travelled North to the Highlands of Scotland to meet Richard at Watercolour Music. An amazing location for a studio, nestled among the hills surrounded by spectacular views. We were there for two days working with producer Nick Turner recording nine movements, with Richard joining us on soprano saxophone.
Among the many aspects that made this an interesting project was the stylistic differences of the movements. Some lean towards contemporary saxophone, others sub-tone tenor saxophone ballad, and folk, and slapstick... Not long before the recording Richard took delivery of a new Yamaha soprano saxophone (bits kept falling off his other saxophones), and what better way to see if you like it than to enter the stratospheric altissimo range in a recording.
The original work by Gambaro was a collection of three quartets written for flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon. This quartet (the second in the collection) substitutes soprano saxophone for flute, alto saxophone for clarinet, tenor saxophone for horn and baritone saxophone for bassoon. The original key is lowered by a third (low A on baritone being the lowest note required) to avoid the requirement for extreme range: altissimo G is the highest altissimo note (in the alto saxophone part).
There are three movements:
1st - Allegro Brillante
2nd - Menuetto & Trio (Vivace)
3rd - Finale (Agitato)
Giovanni Battista Gambaro was born in Genoa, a port city and the capital of northwest Italy's Liguria region, in 1785. He became highly regarded as a clarinettist, composer and publisher, playing a significant role in the musical life of Italy and Paris.
After moving to Paris he became principal clarinettist in the Italian Theatre Orchestra around 1816, becoming the conductor by 1828. He was involved in the Gambaro family music publishing company in Paris from around 1808, publishing works by himself, his brother Giovanni, and other composers.
Giovanni was noted for preferring Ivan Müller’s 13-key clarinet as his instrument of choice as it allowed for substantially more technical dexterity than other clarinets of the day. Gambaro extolled the advantages of Müller’s instruments to other clarinettists (including Frédéric Berr), and published Müller’s method for the instrument.
According to the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris (obituary) Giovanni Gambaro died in 1850.
A simple piece for one or more saxophones.
This piece portrays a clockwork mechanism, relying on the performer/s creating an almost inaudible texture of soft sounds. It is most effective performed by an ensemble, as a greater number of saxophonists equals more mechanical complexity. It can be performed by any member or combination of the saxophone family.
Reflecting the fragility and complexity of life, the dyads (two sounds played simultaneously) are produced using saxophone multiphonics. They are deliberately moderately difficult to play in order to introduce an element of struggle and fragility. Although the dyads can sustain they might eventually break. Each performer interprets the same graphic score, adding their individual voice to create an overall organic moving texture. The overall texture should be delicate, blended and subtle.
It is a graphic score and can be performed by any number of alto saxophonists, including as a solo. This work is particularly effective in a reverberant space, especially if performers place themselves around the performance area.