J.S. Bach’s BWV 1005 and 1006 (1720) feature the additive element of Robert Schumann’s piano accompaniments added in 1853. While the secondary melodic line fragments of BWV 1005 are my own, those of BWV 1006 are actually interspersed with that of BWV 29, in which Bach orchestrated the (original) melody line for organ soloist and orchestra. When one of the saxophones is playing music from BWV 1006, the other is gleaned from the orchestral writing found in BWV 29.
Vivaldi’s RV 548 (1725) provides ample opportunity for florid ornamentation, quite intentionally allowing for the performers to improvise in this manner. The outer movements are typically fast, showy, and boisterous, with the sublime slow middle movement featuring a captivating melody that alternates between major and minor modes.
Handel’s Sonata N.3 (1730) consists of four traditional movements typically found in Baroque music, complete with plenty of contrast and opportunity for ornamentation. Recent scholarship has actually cast considerable doubt on the authorship of this music, and whether Handel or some other composer actually composed this work remains a mystery.
Charles Koechlin was a French composer, teacher, and writer who studied with the prolific French composers Massenet and Fauré. In the 1930s, Koechlin began composing music inspired by film stars he admired, resulting in several pieces, including the Èpitaphe de Jean Harlow (1937). The flute and saxophone alternate lyrical phrases while the piano plays running notes underneath, creating a wistful texture throughout.
Robert Muczynski’s Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano (1971) is a standard of the saxophone repertoire and was originally given the subtitle Desert Sketches. The original intention for this sonata was to be a traditional 3-movement sonata, in which the movements recorded here, 1 and 2, were to be the second and third movements of three. For reasons never codified, the Sonata became a finished work with just these two initial movements. Regardless, there is such an abundance of meaningful music within the two finished movements that the Sonata has continued to be a celebrated and permanent contribution to the repertoire of today’s classical saxophonist.
David DeBoor Canfield has written extensively for the saxophone, and he is well-known for his series of “After” compositions, each written in the style of a famous deceased composer. The Concerto After Mendelssohn was written between December 10, 2016 and January 26, 2017, and orchestrated from February 20 to March 8, 2017. This version for Wind Ensemble accompaniment was prepared in August of 2018 especially for a May 2019 performance by myself and the Alberta Winds in Calgary.
John Rommereim’s Amara - Breath of Grace (2014) is unique on this album as it is the only work to be recorded live, feature a choral ensemble, and to require the soloist to exclusively improvise. Rommeriem writes: “The choral hymn Amara is meant to be an expression in sound of the idea of grace. Since the song has no words, the exact meaning of Amara (an Igbo word for ‘grace’) can be imagined by each performer and listener in their own way. In the brief silences between phrases, the performers are asked to absorb a sense of amara as they breathe. The saxophone solo is freely improvised in dialog with the choir’s singing.”
Trio N.1 by Russell Peterson was originally scored for saxophone, flute, and piano in 2009, and transcribed by the composer for saxophone, flute, and symphonic band in 2012. I recorded this work in the original configuration on my album Timescape in 2013; it was a joyful experience in Spring 2018 to rediscover this exciting three-movement piece in a much larger and more expansive instrumental setting.
The title of this recording, SECOND WIND, comes from moving from Iowa to Alabama in the summer of 2017. To now be surrounded by such talented and inspiring people has been rejuvenating. I am forever grateful to my talented and generous colleagues with whom I collaborated to make this album. Additional thanks go to my parents Paul and Margaret Camwell, sister Jennifer Camwell, Yamaha, D’Addario, John Anderson, Larry Blocher, Jeff & Gail Hiley, and Troy University’s Research and Creativity Grant program. Heartfelt thanks as always to my amazing editor-in-chief for all things big and small, my wife, Jillian Camwell. — Dr. Dave Camwell
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