The American Muse

A Century of American Music for Saxophone Quartet

Elliott Carter composer
Michael Torke composer
Alec Wilder composer
Calvin Hampton composer
Steve Cohen composer
Aaron Copland composer
Paul Cohen arranger
Caryl Florio composer

The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet
Paul Cohen soprano
Avi Goldrosen alto
Noah Getz tenor
Tim Reudeman baritone

Release Date: July 26, 2024
Catalog #: RR8105
Format: Digital
20th Century
Romantic
Chamber
Saxophone

While the saxophone quartet has a relatively short history compared to traditional classical its wind and string counterparts, its repertoire has been rapidly expanding. Combining the suppleness of a string quartet, power of a brass quintet, and extroverted color of a wind quintet, the saxophone has truly blossomed as a unique and accepted voice by composers and listeners.

With composers such as Glass, Cage, Berio, Flagello, Xenakis, Wuorinen, Keuris, and Bolcombe writing substantial pieces, its place in today’s classical music scene is secure and growing. On THE AMERICAN MUSE, the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet performs American music that spans beyond a century, from 1879 to 1999. Whether it is the classicist Florio, jazz-inspired Wilder, nostalgic Copland, or post-minimal Torke, each work is of a singularly different nature yet all identifiable as American in style and spirit.

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Track Listing & Credits

# Title Composer Performer
01 Saxophone Quartet #2 (1998): Andante Steve Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 7:33
02 Saxophone Quartet #2 (1998): Scherzo Steve Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 3:52
03 Saxophone Quartet #2 (1998): Adagio Steve Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 7:05
04 Saxophone Quartet #2 (1998): Allegro Giocoso Steve Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 3:58
05 July (1995) Michael Torke The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 7:47
06 Four Piano Blues (1926–1948): freely poetic Aaron Copland, arr. Paul Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 2:48
07 Four Piano Blues (1926–1948): soft and languid Aaron Copland, arr. Paul Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 2:39
08 Four Piano Blues (1926–1948): muted and sensuous Aaron Copland, arr. Paul Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 2:45
09 Four Piano Blues (1926–1948): with bounce Aaron Copland, arr. Paul Cohen The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 1:11
10 Fugue (1976) Calvin Hampton The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 6:24
11 Saxophone Quartet (1973): Movement No. 1 Alex Wilder The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 2:52
12 Saxophone Quartet (1973): Movement No. 2 Alex Wilder The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 2:37
13 Saxophone Quartet (1973): Movement No. 3 Alex Wilder The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 2:02
14 Saxophone Quartet (1973): Movement No. 4 Alex Wilder The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 3:50
15 Canonic Suite for Quartet of Alto Saxophones (1945/1981): Fanfare Elliot Carter The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 1:03
16 Canonic Suite for Quartet of Alto Saxophones (1945/1981): Nocturne Elliot Carter The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 2:43
17 Canonic Suite for Quartet of Alto Saxophones (1945/1981): Tarantella Elliot Carter The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 1:39
18 Quartette (1879): Andante Caryl Florio The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 3:00
19 Quartette (1879): Allegro Caryl Florio The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet 3:46

Recorded June–July 1999 at Town Hall New York City & July–August 1999 at West Center Church in Bronxville NY
Recording Session Producer Andor Toth
Recording Engineer Jeremy Tressler, Enota Sound & Andor Toth, David Smith, Triton Sound
Editors Jeremy Tressler, Andor Toth
Mastering Thomas Bethel, Acoustik Music Ltd.

Artistic Director André Gillles Duchemin
Graphic Design franclygraphic.com
Cover Illustration by Anique Taylor

Notes by Paul Cohen
Translation Guy Marchaund

Executive Producer Bob Lord

A&R Director Brandon MacNeil
A&R Jeff LeRoy

VP of Production Jan Košulič
Audio Director Lucas Paquette

VP, Design & Marketing Brett Picknell
Art Director Ryan Harrison
Design Edward A. Fleming
Publicity Kacie Brown, Aidan Curran, Chelsea Kornago
Digital Marketing Manager Brett Iannucci

Artist Information

Paul Cohen

Saxophonist

Paul Cohen is a sought-after saxophonist for orchestral and chamber concerts and solo recitals. He has appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Richmond Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Charleston Symphony, and the Philharmonia Virtuosi. His many solo orchestra performances include works by Debussy, Creston, Ibert, Glazunov, Martin, Loeffler, Husa, Dahl, Still, Villa-Lobos, Tomasi, and Cowell. He has also performed with a broad range of orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera (NYC), American Symphony Orchestra, Cleveland Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, New Jersey Symphony, Oregon Symphony, San Diego Symphony, Long Island Philharmonic, Group for Contemporary Music, Greenwich Symphony, and New York Solisti.

The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet

ensemble

The New Hudson Saxophone Quartet is a rare combination: an ensemble dedicated to presenting American music with a string quartet approach and a beautiful, blending saxophone sound. Their repertoire can range from newly commissioned works by Robert Sirota and Robert Kyr to classic original repertoire by 19th-century American composers Caryl Florio and the 20th century Alec Wilder.

The members of the Quartet all are veteran concert musicians and accomplished soloists, with credits that include the Cleveland Orchestra, New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera, The Absolute Ensemble, and the Kirov and Juilliard Orchestras, as well as jazz musicians Clark Terry, James Moody, Muhal Richard Abrams and Milt Hinton. They bring their widely varied experiences forward a dedication to beautiful ensemble, a pure tone, and the ability to effortlessly and authentically play in varying musical styles.

The NHQ has appeared with the Charleston Symphony and Long Island Philharmonic, and Greenwich (CT) Orchestra. In 1997, they collaborated with conductor Lawrence Leighton Smith in the New York premiere of Nicolas Flagello’s Concerto Sinfonico for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra. They have performed Calvin Hampton’s Saxophone Quartet Concerto with the Metamorphosis Orchestra, and gave the world premiere of the wind ensemble version of Flagello’s Concerto Sinfonico. The NHQ is active in expanding the saxophone quartet repertoire, and has commissioned, premiered or performed a number of exciting, accessible new works by such composers as Elias Tannenbaum, David Noon, Dexter Morrill, Robert Kyr, Alan Brings, Steve Cohen and Barbara Jazwinski.

Also an active recording ensemble, The NHQ has recorded as soloists with the Manhattan Philharmonia, and has recorded premieres with the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra led by Richard Auldon Clark, and the Rutgers University Orchestra under the baton of Kynon Johns, They were featured on the widely recognized Arizona University Recordings CD America’s Millennium Tribute to Adolphe Sax. The American Muse, originally released in 2001, garnered wonderful reviews. Their CD, Quartet at the Crossroads, was released in August 2010 (Capstone), and their newest Naxos CD Breathing Lessons was released in 2011.

Paul Cohen, soprano saxophone, is one of America’s most sought-after saxophonists for orchestral and chamber concerts and solo recitals. He has appeared as soloist with the San Francisco Symphony, Richmond Symphony, New Jersey Symphony, Charleston Symphony and Philharmonia Virtuosi. His many solo orchestra performances include works by Debussy, Creston, Ibert, Glazunov, Martin, Loeffler, Husa, Dahl, Still, Villa-Lobos, Tomasi, and Cowell. He has also performed with a broad range of orchestras, including the New York Philharmonic, Metropolitan Opera (NYC), Cleveland Orchestra, Santa Fe Opera, New Jersey Symphony, Oregon Symphony, Long Island Philharmonic, Group for Contemporary Music, Greenwich Symphony, Charleston Symphony, New York Solisti, and the Manhattan Chamber Orchestra.

He has recorded three albums with the Clevaland Symphonic Winds under the direction of Frederick Fennell and a compact disk of the music of Villa-Lobos with the Quintet of the Americas as well as recordings with the Saxophone Sinfonia, Philharmonia Virtuosi, New York Solisti, Paul Winter Consort, North-South Consonance, and the New Sousa Band. His most recent recordings include Quiet City, a chamber music CD including premiere recordings of works by Ornstain, Lunde and Harltey, as well as Breathing Lessons, a CD of new works for saxophone quartet. Earlier recordings include an environmental-jazz CD of solo improvisations, the newly discovered Classical saxophone concerto of the 19th-century American composer Caryl Florio, and his solo CD, Vintage Saxophones Revisited, featuring the premiere recording of Cowell’s Hymn and Fuguing Tune #18. A specialist on the soprano saxophone, he is the founder and leader of the New Hudson Quartet, which has performed concertos of Calvin Hampton and Nicolas Flagello, and recently released two CDs of American music, Quartet at the Crossroads, and Breathing Lessons on the Parma and Naxos labels. Combining his musicological pursuits with performing activities, Dr. Cohen has rediscovered and performed lost saxophone literature, including solo works for saxophone and orchestra by Loeffler, Florio and Dahl (for winds), as well as rare chamber works by Grainger, Omstein, Sousa, Cowell, Siegmeister, and Loeffler. His company, To the Fore Publishers, publishes his arrangements and settings for saxophone ensemble as well as original, historical, and contemporary saxophone works from selected composers. Dr. Cohen frequently presents lectures on the saxophone, illustrating his talks with rare instruments, manuscripts, and archival material from his extensive private collection.

Dr. Cohen is currently on the faculties of Manhattan School of Music, Rutgers University, New York University, Columbia University, and the Aaron Copland School of Music at Queens College.

Avl Goldrosen, alto saxophone, performs with several orchestras in the NYC region including the Plainfield, Long Island Philharmonic, Livingston, Charleston Symphony, NJ Pops, Rutgers, and Juilliard orchestras. In his orchestral playing Avi has performed with conductors Lawrence Leighton Smith, Richard Aulden Clark, Sabine Pautza, Mark Gould, David Briskin, and Randell Berh. Avi’s chamber music playing includes performances with the New Juilliard Ensemble, New Jersey Saxophone Ensemble, and recent tours with the NY Theater Ballet. Avi performs regularly with the Saxophone Sinfonia, and is a member of the Garden State Symphonic band.

Noah Getz, tenor saxophone, has performed and lectured worldwide, including appearances at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Camegie Hall, Zilkha Hall, The Phillips Collection and the 2012 Polish Woodwind Festival in Wolsztyn, Poland. An avid chamber musician, Getz received a first-round Grammy nomination with the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet and has performed with the National Gallery New Music Ensemble, The 21st Century Consort, and the Empyrean Ensemble. His albums Crosscurrents, explore and Still Lifewere (Albany Records) explore the intersection of jazz and contemporary classical music. Getz is committed to commissioning and premiering new works for saxophone, including recent collaborations with Aaron Jay Kemis, David Amram and Ken Ueno. He has presented masterclasses, recitals, and lectures at universities and events across the country, including at Peabody Conservatory, Mannes-The New School of Music, and the Aaron Copland School of Music. Noah is a Musician-In-Residenca at American University in Washington, DC. Noah attended the Oberlin Conservatory of Music and the Manhattan School of Music, where he studied with Paul Cohen, and Florida State University, where he studied with Pat Meighan.

Tim Ruedeman, baritone saxophone, has performed throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia including performances at the Lincoln Center Festival, SoundScape Festival in Macagno Italy, Mostly Mozart Festival, Kennedy Center, Avery Fisher Hall, Late Show with David Letterman, Symphony Space, and Bang On A Can Marathon. He has appeared as soloist with the S.E.M. Ensemble, Greenwich Symphony, Manhattan Chamber Orchestra, and Hanover Wind Symphony; as an orchestral and chamber performer with the New York Philharmonic, Long Island Philharmonic, Charleston Symphony, Bridgeport Symphony, International Contemporary Ensemble (|.C.E.), Absolute Ensemble, Imani Winds, North-South Consonance, the New Sousa Band, Desshoff Choir, and the Merce Cunningham Dance Company. A committed performer of new music, Mr. Rusdeman has given the pramieres of over sixty new works as a member of the new-music ensemble Flexible Music and the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet.

Equally at home in commercial and jazz music Tim has toured, recorded, and worked with rock lagends The Cars, Todd Rundgren, M. Ward, David Foster, Christopher Cross, Lou Gramm of Foreigner, Denny Laine of the Moody Blues, Paul Shaffer, Girl Talk, and The Walkmen.

Dr. Ruedeman has served on the faculty of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and is currently on the faculties of NYU, Long Island University and William Paterson University. He received his BA in English Literature from Oberlin College, BM in music performance from the Oberlin Conservatory of Music, and MA and PhD in music performance from New York University where he studied with Paul Cohen.

Notes

The saxophone quartet is a medium that has finally come of age in the concert world. Combining the suppleness of a string quartet, power of a brass quintet and extroverted color of a wind quintet, the saxophone quartet has emerged in the last 25 years as a unique and accepted voice by composers and listeners. With composers such as Glass, Cage, Berio, Flagello, Xenakis, Wuorinen, Keuris, Bolcombe writing substantial pieces, its place in today’s music is secure and growing. In The American Muse, the NHQ performs American music for saxophone quartet that spans beyond a century, from 1879 to 1999. Whether it is the classicist Florio, jazz inspired Wilder, nostalgic Copland or post-minimal Torke, each work is of a singularly different nature yet all identifiable as American in style and spirit.
(written for Paul Cohen and the NHQ)

Steve Cohen received his training at the Eastman, Juilliard and Manhattan Schools of Music, and has composed a large catalog of symphonic, chamber and musical-theater pieces, including the operas The Cop and Anthem (libretto by Alison Hubbard after the O. Henry story) and La Pizza Del Destino (libretto by Joseph Renard). As an arranger and orchestrator, Mr. Cohen has supplied scores for the New York Pops Orchestra, the Metropolitan Opera Guild, the American Ballet Theater, the Goldman Memorial Band, the world premiere of the musical Spittin’ Image, and touring companies of Beauty And The Beast, Porgy and Bess, Crazy For You, Guys and Dolls and The Secret Garden. A new series of Christmas carols arranged for solo voice and orchestra has been commissioned and published by Edwin F. Kalmus and Co. Mr. Cohen completed Kevin Oldham’s Concerto for Piano from the composer’s sketches, a piece now available on the BMG/Catalyst CD “Memento Bittersweet.”

Steve Cohen has written about his Saxophone Quartet #2:
Buoyed by the enthusiastic response to my Saxophone Quartet #1, | was inspired to write a second piece in the same medium, slightly longer, in four movements rather than three, and with more emphasis on lyricism, while still finding room for the aggressive rhythms and jazz influences that appear in the first quartet.

The opening, Andante moderato, centers around the key of G minor, with a secondary theme in E-flat, and seeks to create a flowing, pastoral atmosphere.

Movement 2, a scherzo marked Allegro agitato, grew out of my fascination with motor rhythms, and the instrumental means by which one can break up a phrase or a pattern to create the illusion that the players do not need to breathe. The piece starts with a nervous, agitated pattern built on the interval of a minor second, which as it is developed takes on jazzy overtones, as well as sounding comically grotesque at times. After much of this sort of writing, a long lyrical line appears, played first by the soprano and then picked up by the tenor. The other two voices are brought into this new sensibility, converted if you will, and the music takes on a fervent hymn-like quality. As the hymn approaches an affirmative cadence the baritone introduces the minor second motif again, plunging the group back into the chaos of the beginning.

Movement 3, Adagio, centers around D-flat and seeks to create a mood of stillness and serenity, combining an old-world sense of yearning with aspects of the blues.

The finale, a jovial rondo marked Allegro giocoso, begins with a theme mildly reminiscent of a Renaissance dance, and introduces a number of other themes, some very syncopated, others more smooth and cantabile. In response to Elgar’s Enigma Variations, I have included a disguised allusion to what is for me a highly significant melody, and I wish all my listeners a good time discovering its identity.

The music of Michael Torke has been called “some of the most optimistic, joyful and thoroughly uplifting music to appear in recent years” (Gramophone). Hailed as a “vitally inventive composer” (Financial Times) , Michael Torke has created a substantial body of works in virtually every genre, each with a characteristic personal stamp that combines restless rhythmic energy with ravishingly beautiful melodies. With two of his most widely-performed works, Ecstatic Orange and The Yellow Pages, Torke practically defined post-minimalism, a music which utilizes the repetitive structures of a previous generation to incorporate musical techniques from both the classical tradition and the contemporary pop world. From these initial kinetic scores, Torke’s music has developed toward larger, more expansive forms allowing for greater textural variation and longer, sweeping themes.

Other recent orchestral compositions include: Javelin (1994), a “sonic olympiad” commissioned by the Atlanta Committee for the Olympics in celebration of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra’s 50th anniversary season, Brick Symphony (1997), a 40-minute, four-movement essay commissioned by the San Francisco Symphony; December (1995) for string orchestra; and Concerto for Soprano Saxophone Concerto (1993).

Michael Torke wrote of his saxophone quartet, “July”
“When | am drawn to a particular rythmic groove from an overheard pop song, I scratch my head and think: “I like that, how could | use it?” To me, it’s not worth trying to write another of the ten million songs out there. But I’ve found that if I take a small part of the drum track and assign it to the non-percussion instruments I’m writing for, then interesting things happen. You lose the original context (in this case a baritone sax does notsound like a kick drum), but you gain immediacy and a freshness in the instrumental writing. There will also be a cohesion of compositional intent if you have a strategy for those pitch assignments. When writing this piece, keeping in mind the incredible agility of the saxophone, | wrote a series of rapid notes which form a foundation, or a kind of ‘directory’ from which I pulled out pitches to assign to those original rhythms (as notesfly by in real time). What fascinates me is that this act of translation seems to completely remove the original reference from my music; sometimes I can’t even remember what the original song was that inspired me and, if I do, it’s hard to even hear the connection. But what remains is a kind of energy.

Like December for string orchestra, the piece that preceded July, I’m trying to incorporate contrasting themes and moods together in a single movement work. To me this evokes a wider range of impressions. Instead of single-mindedly exploring one color, as in earlier pieces of mine, the music now corresponds to an experience of time – the energy and heat we find in the month of July, aswell as cooling breezes of repose that come, perhaps, in the evening.”

Four Piano Blues was composed between 1926 and 1948, with each movement dedicated to a different friend of the composer. These thoughtful portraits, loosely drawn from a “Blues” perspective, together form a little musical portrait of the composer over the years. From the exuberant jazz of the twenties to the strong simplicity of his fortie’s music, they are immediatley recongnizable as Copland’s own, distinctive American language. I have always been enamored of Piano Blues, and thought that the colorful and sustaining sonorities of the saxophone quartet could add yet another dimension to the work.

Copland is no stranger to the saxophone, having used it on occasion throughout his music. In addition to his original wind ensemble scoring (Outdoor Overture, Emblems, Red Pony Suite,) Copland scored for the saxophone in the Symphony #1, Piano Concerto, Saga of the Prairie, The Second Hurricane and the original music to the play Quiet City. Later in his life he expressed renewed enthusiasm for the saxophone, and especially for a quartet verion of Piano Blues. | am told that the New York Saxophone Quartet, on invitation from the composer, once spent an informal afternoon playing their version of Piano Blues to a supportive and delighted Copland. That enthusiasm has been sustained by Copland’s estate and Boosey and Hawkes, Copland’s publisher, who requested, and now publish, my adaptation of Piano Blues for saxophone quartet heard here…

Calvin Hampton was born in Kittanning, Pennsylvania in 1938. He received his musical training at Oberlin Conservatory and Syracuse University where he studied organ and composition. From 1974 to 1983 Mr. Hampton was organist and choirmaster at the Parish of Calvary, Holy Communion, and St. George in New York City. During that time he played weekly concerts at the Cavalry Church in New York City, a series internationally acclaimed.

As an organist, Calvin Hampton received national recognition. He had twice been a recitalist at the National Convention of the American Guild of Organists and he distinguished himself as an interpreter of 19th and 20th century music. His many recordings include a diversity of works for solo organ, organ with orchestra and chamber music.

Calvin Hampton’s compositions have been widely played throughout the United States. Prolific and eclectic, he utilized diverse elements and mediums drawing on classical, folk, jazz, gospel and popular musics. In 1977 the New York Philharmonic performed the “Concerto for Saxophone Quartet, Strings and Percussion” and in 1980 the Minneapolis National Convention of the American Guild of Organists commissioned and premiered his “Concerto for Organ and Strings.” His works for saxophone include Bach’s Fireworks Music, and Fugue, both for saxophone quartet, Labyrinth for soprano voice and saxophone quartet, and the Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra.

Fugue, written for the New York Saxophone Quartet in the 1970s is an unusually intense, contemporary work cast in an elaborate and strict fugal form. Tonal in design, its terse melodies, dark harmonies and brilliant fugal intricacy create a work of uncommon power and movement.

After an extended illness, Calvin. Hampton died of AIDS on August 5, 1984, in Port Charlotte, Florida.

Alec Wilder’s music is a unique blend of American musical traditions, combining jazz and the American popular song with “classical” European forms and techniques. As such it fiercely resists all labeling and was not widely accepted at first by either jazz or classical performers. Wilder wrote a great deal of remarkably original music in many forms: sonatas, suites, concertos, operas, ballets, art songs, woodwind quintets, brass quintets, jazz suites — and hundreds of popular songs.

Alec Wilder (1907-1980) studied briefly at the Eastman School of Music, but as a composer he was largely self-taught. As a young man he moved to New York City and made the Algonquin Hotel his permanent home. Mitch Miller and Frank Sinatra were initially responsible for introducing Wilder’s music to the public. It was Miller who organized the historic recordings of Wilder’s octets beginning in 1939. Sinatra, an early fan of Wilder’s music and an avid supporter, persuaded Columbia Records to record some of Wilder’s solo wind works with string orchestra in 1945, with Sinatra conducting.

It is a relative rarity for a composer to enjoy a close musical kinship with classical musicians, jazz musicians and popular singers. Wilder was such a composer, endearing himself to a relatively small but very loyal and diverse set of performers. He wrote art songs for distinguished sopranos Jan DeGaetani and Eileen Farrell, chamber music for the New York Woodwind and New York Brass Quintets, large instrumental works for conductors Erich Leinsdorf, Frederick Fennell, Gunther Schuller, Sarah Caldwell, David Zinman, Donald Hunsberger and Frank Battisti, many of them premiering his works for orchestra or wind ensemble. Concert soloists who recorded or premiered his music include John Barrows, horn; Harvey Phillips, tuba; David Soyer, cello; Gary Karr, string bass; Samuel Baron, James Pellerite and Virginia Nanzetta, flute; Robert Levy, trumpet; Gordon Stout, marimba. His diverse works for saxophone were written for Donald Sinta (Sonata, Concerto), Gerry Mulligan (Suite for Baritone Saxophone, Horn and Wind Quintet, and Suite #2 for Baritone Saxophone, Wind Quintet and Rhythm), Stan Getz (Three Ballades for Stan) and Zoot Sims (Suite #1).

The Quartet for saxophones was written in 1963 for the New York Saxophone Quartet. It is both lyrical and jazzy, with a suaveness and urbane character that could only come from Wilder and his New York surroundings. He smoothly integrates classical techniques of fugue and sonata development with the harmonies and movement of jazz and popular music. The music has a freshness and wittiness within a characteristically American flavor.

Elliot Carter’s compositions have been performed throughout the world and have won him an array of awards and honors including the 1958 Pulitzer Prize, the UNESCO prize, Guggenheim fellowships, and election to the National Institute of Arts and Letters. Carter continues to be one of America’s preeminent composers today. In 1996 at the age of 84 he completed his Symphonia: Sum Fluxae Pretium Spei, 1993-6, for large orchestra, and in 1999 the premiere of his first opera.

Among his many honors, Carter received a BMI Publication Prize for his Suite for Quartet of Alto Saxophones. The origins of the Canonic Suite lie in Carter’s years of study with Nadia Boulanger. These pieces originally formed four “Musical Studies” that were composed as contrapuntal exercises, without specfic instrumentation or intention of performance. In 1939 he adapted three of them for a BMI competition which he won. (The fourth “Andante Expressivo” was not included due to the extended range of the individual parts.) The remaining three movements, “Fanfare”, “Nocturne”, and “Tarantella” comprise the Suite for Quartet of Alto Saxophones which was published in 1945.

During the years 1955-6 Carter arranged the Suite for Quartet of Alto Saxophones for four clarinets, and this version was published in 1957 as the Canonic Suite. In 1981 Carter returned to the saxophone version of Suite for Quartet of Alto Saxophones and revised it into its current form, based on the clarinet version now titled Canonic Suite. The Fanfare is a canon in four parts at the unison. The Nocturne is a four-part canon in inversion (saxophone 2), retrograde (saxophone 3), and retrograde inversion (saxophone 4). The Tarantella is a four-part canon at the second above.

While the materials and instrumentation – the quartet of saxophones – remained constant the original material was reworked in the style of Carter’s more recent period. It is this version that is heard here by the NHQ. The revised Canonic Suite for Four Alto Saxophones has a greater density and complexity, but still retains the melodic graciousness and formal clarity of the original, creating a blend of Carter’s earlier and later compositional styles.

Caryl Florio was the pseudonym of William James Robjohn, who was born in England on Nov 2, 1843 and died in Morgantown, North Carolina on Nov. 21, 1920. Entering the United States in 1858, Robjohn immersed himself in musical activities. He became the first boy soloist at New York’s Trinity Church and held jobs as organist, actor and choirmaster through the 1860s. Florio produced a large body of works, including vocal, choral, instrumental, symphonic and incidental music and operatic compositions. Among the most significant are the Piano Trio in D major (1866), four works for string quartet (1872-1896), two violin sonatas, two symphonies (both b1887), two cantatas, two overtures, the operetta Mercury Tricks (1869) and the opera Guilda after his own libretto (1879). The bulk of these pieces remain in manuscript – only some of his church music and piano pieces were published in his lifetime. From 1896 until his death he served in various musical capacities in the Asheville, North Carolina area, first as music director at Biltmore, George Vanderbilt’s estate, then as choirmaster and teacher in the area.

Florio wrote three concert works for the saxophone, including a quintet for piano and saxophone quartet, “Introduction, Theme and Variations” for alto saxophone and orchestra, and “Allegro de Concert” for SATB quartet. All were unpublished during his lifetime. They were composed for the internationally acclaimed saxophone virtuoso Edward Lefebre (1834-1911) who settled in this country from his native Holland in 1871. Lefebre initiated many projects for the creation and development of saxophone literature, including forming the New York Saxophone Quartet Club in the 1870s. It was through that organization that Florio and Lefebre became acquainted, (both lived in New York City at the time) resulting in what is likely the first solo work for saxophone and orchestra, the Introduction, Theme and Variations. The quartet “Allegro de Concert” for SATB saxophones, from 1879 survived in the archives and was published in 1988 by C.F. Peters in an edition by Richard Jackson, former head of the Americana Collection at the New York Public Library. The form of the work is actually a two-movement prelude and fugue, marked Andante and Allegro. This charming, Mendelsohn-spirited work is perhaps the first original work for saxophone quartet by an American composer.