for alto saxophone and piano, 13 minutes
Instrumentation: alto saxophone, piano
Publication: Jeanne Publications, Minneapolis, MN
A powerful, virtuosic work for alto saxophone and piano. Saxophonist Noah Getz commissioned the work, premiering it with the composer in January 2009.
PDF: » excerpt
Performers: Noah Getz, Saxophone, Andrew E Simpson, piano
The Golden Prophecy (originally entitled "Sonata for Alto Saxophone and Piano") was commissioned by saxophonist Noah Getz, Artist-in-Residence at American University in Washington, DC, and an inveterate champion of new music for saxophone. I created the piece working closely with Noah, showing him passages as I wrote them; because of his great virtuosity and flexibility, there was a high technical ceiling available to me as composer.
This piece stretches the technical boundaries of the saxophone, with very fast passagework and extreme high registers in places. At the same time, it is a deeply expressive work, and calls upon the lyrical aspects of the saxophone, as well: a particular emphasis on vocal sounds is made in this piece.
The structure is in three large parts: after a crashing fortissimo opening, the saxophone enters with a voice-like, slow, keening wail. Gradually, the texture builds and the tempo increases to reach a first climax. The second section is very fast, a perpetual-motion piece in which the saxophone and piano move in very fast, galloping 12/8 meter. This builds to a second, larger climax, following which the saxophone, playing as if stunned in its very highest register, settles down to play a lyrical, melancholy slow movement: part three, in which the "prophecy" is given.
Following the final melancholy, lyrical section, a fast coda recaptures the energy of the earlier section section, and the piece ends powerfully.
The Golden Prophecy was recorded in summer 2009 for a forthcoming recording of pieces commissioned by Noah Getz. A version with wind ensemble is in preparation, as well, for a future premiere.
--Andrew Earle Simpson