About the album
n the late 1830s Adolphe Sax created an instrument which could complement the sonorities of brasses, woodwinds, and strings in an orchestral ensemble. Besides providing a unique timbre, the instrument was strong enough to sound with a chorus of brasses and soft enough to blend with a group of strings and woodwinds. Soon many musicians began to praise the capabilities of Sax's instrument, the saxophone. Its sound could easily swell and diminish, and its tone could mimic a variety of other instruments from a sonorous pipe organ to a plaintive human voice. Despite such flexibility, this first saxophone, the bass saxophone, was thought best suited for slow lyrical passages in orchestral music either as a solo voice or as harmonic support. Initially, musicians and composers considered the saxophone "inappropriate for the energetic and brilliant effects of military music." However, with the introduction of new members of the saxophone family, the instrument became a standard part of military bands and jazz bands, as well as contemporary ensembles and orchestras.
For over a century the saxophone has lent its voice well to the musical artistry of many styles and periods. "Artistry lies in the attention to detail," says Joseph Lulloff. In the turn of a phrase, the stroke of a brush, the sounding of a note, the fine details of execution give rise to a spectrum of human expression. In the art of Maria Ruggiero one sees distinctive shapes and blended lines. She captures in color the energy of sound. In the performances of Joseph Lulloff and Philip Hosford one hears a full range of emotion, from intense passion to quiet reflection. These recordings bring to life the music of composers who infused fine details of content and form into their work. In all the details of these interpretations, enjoy the artistry!
The compositions of Francis Poulenc (1899-1963) were influenced by various types of music and musicians. By his early teens he was familiar with music of the Paris theater, as well as works by Stravinsky and Schoenberg. In 1915 Poulenc began studying with Spanish pianist Ricardo Vies, and he applied his teacher's unique pedaling techniques not only to his playing but also to his composing. The simplicity and clarity of Poulenc's music was partly influenced by his association with Satie and the other members of Les Six (Auric, Durey, Tailleferre, Honegger, and Milhaud). Whether writing for large or small ensembles, vocal or instrumental media, Poulenc strove for simple, expressive, and pleasing melodies. Although he thought his music was not particularly innovative harmonically, he did use chord structures and progressions from other composers to complement the beauty of his melodies. The Sonata for oboe and piano (1962), dedicated to the memory of Serge Prokofiev, is the last composition Poulenc completed before his death. He intended to write a cycle of sonatas for wind instruments, and he had already finished ones for flute and clarinet. Poulenc structured the Oboe Sonata on a slow-fast-slow pattern of movements in contrast to the more traditional fast-slow-fast pattern. The first movement, "lgie," juxtaposes a child-like theme with a more passionate aria-like melody and shifts between major and minor tonalities. "Scherzo" begins as a lively jig whose motives pass quickly between saxophone and piano. A lyrical passage featuring the piano interrupts the momentum, but the jig returns to finish the movement in a flurry. Poulenc described "Dploration" as "a sort of liturgical chant," and the writing in this movement recalls some of his religious compositions. The melodies here are plaintive and pensive in character, although there is brief reference to the child-like tune of the first movement. The piece in its entirety seems to capture the moods and passions of a human life from birth to death.
American composer and teacher Paul Cooper (b. 1926) studied at the University of Southern California under the guidance of Ingolf Dahl, Ernest Kanitz, Roger Sessions, and Halsey Stevens. In 1953 he earned a Fulbright Fellowship that allowed him to study at the Paris Conservatory with Nadia Boulanger. After receiving a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in 1955, he taught at the University of Michigan and later at the University of Cincinnati. In 1974 he was appointed professor of music and composer-in residence at the newly established Shepherd School of Music at Rice University. Cooper has won awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Academy and Institute of Arts and Letter, and the Ford, Rockefeller, and Rackham foundations. Four Impromptus (1983) is the second of three pieces Cooper has written for solo saxophone with orchestra or piano. It was commissioned by Louisa Sarofim for saxophonist Laura Hunter and pianist Brian Connelly. Each movement demands lyrical and technical artistry as the saxophone and piano timbres alternately blend and contrast in non-tonal harmonies. Cooper dedicates each impromptu to a different composer whose initials appear at the end of each movement. The first impromptu bears the inscription "I.N.I.S." ("In Nomine Igor Stravinsky"). The following impromptus are dedicated to Benjamin Britten, Roberto Gerhard, and Nadia Boulanger. Cooper added these inscriptions after the music was composed to indicate sources of his inspiration rather than to describe the stylistic aspects of each movement.
Alfred Desenclos (1912-1971) began his studies at the Roubaix Conservatory and continued them at the Paris Conservatory where he received the Premier Grand Prix de Rome in 1942. Consequently, he served as director of the Roubaix Conservatory from 1943 until 1950. Desenclos did not try to emulate a particular style or school of composition but rather searched for a personal voice which reflected his sensibility and intelligence. He wrote several chamber and orchestral works, as well as a requiem mass. His music for saxophone includes Prlude, Cadence, et Finale and Quatour de saxophones. In the year that it was written, Prlude, Cadence, et Finale (1956) served as a challenging examination piece for saxophonists at the Paris Conservatory. The three movements are performed without break and demand virtuosic solo and ensemble playing from both saxophonist and pianist. Desenclos begins the "Prlude" with an arpeggio motive which he develops in various ways before eliding it with a lyrical theme introduced by the piano. This romantic theme, sometimes plaintive and sometimes passionate, recurs throughout the piece. The "Cadence" displays the lyricism and agility of the saxophone as Desenclos expands and blends the preceding motives. The final note of the saxophone cadenza elides with the rhythmic theme of the "Finale" which explodes from the piano. The third and final movement features the piano in an extended solo which combines aspects of the three main motives. The saxophone and piano voices become intertwined as well, and although the pace sometimes relaxes, both instruments maintain the musical intensity and virtuosity through the culminating unison statement.
Ralph Vaughan Williams (1872-1958) earned acclaim in England and the world for his activities as performer, composer, scholar, and conductor. As a child he studied piano, violin, organ, and viola. However, composition became an important means of expression despite comments that "he was so hopelessly bad at it" in his early years of development. In struggling to find his creative voice, Vaughan Williams turned to native resources of the English folksong and music of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Their influence can be heard in the purity of his melodic writing and the simplicity of his harmonic language. Vaughan Williams believed that music was for all people, and he was eager to write for occasions great and small. Throughout his life he participated in numerous festivals and music societies while also maintaining a busy schedule as composer, lecturer, and teacher. Vaughan Williams collected over 800 folksongs and variants during his life, and many of these he arranged for vocal and instrumental ensembles. He also composed new works based on songs he heard. The Six Studies in English Folksong (1926) are not folksong transcriptions, but their inspiration can be traced to tunes he collected: (i) Lovely on the Water, (ii) Spurn Point, (iii) She Borrowed Some of her Mother's Gold, (iv) The Lady and the Dragoon, (v) Van Diemen's Land, and (vi) As I Walked over London Bridge. Vaughan Williams wrote these pieces for cello and piano and later arranged them for violin, viola, and clarinet. This version for saxophone and piano was transcribed by Joseph Lulloff.
Charles Ruggiero (b. 1947) holds degrees from the New England Conservatory and Michigan State University. Currently he is professor of music at Michigan State University, where he has taught music theory and composition since 1973. Although his compositional style is eclectic, much of Ruggiero's music reflects his lifelong interest in jazz. He is active as a jazz drummer and has performed with many notable artists, including several of America's leading jazz figures. As a composer Ruggiero is the recipient of numerous grants and commissions, including a 1987-88 National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commissioning Grant and several ASCAP (American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) Special Awards. His music has been performed in Japan, South Korea, and throughout North America. Two of Ruggiero's compositions for saxophone, Interplay and Concerto for Soprano Saxophone and Orchestra, were written for Joseph Lulloff. Interplay (1988), for soprano saxophone and piano, was written as part of a 1987-89 National Endowment for the Arts Consortium Commissioning Project sponsored by Tulane University. The title Interplay refers to the sometimes playful, sometimes combative, interactions that occur between the saxophone and piano parts throughout the composition, but especially in the work's outer movements. In the first and second movements of Interplay, two essentially distinct sets of musical materials are presented; in the third movement these two sets of materials are synthesized and transformed. The use, in the first two movements, of certain stylistic models and materials borrowed from modern jazz is confirmed in the final movement as it departs from its opening style and moves toward a blatantly boppish idiom. Organized into seven main sections, "Octaves" begins and ends with a juxtaposition of perfect and augmented octaves. In the second and the sixth sections, perfect octaves are used prominently in the eighteenth-century derived accompaniment figures of the piano part. The classical keyboard style of these two sections serves as a foil to the volatile jazz "comping" that dominates the middle of the movement. "Night Song" is an atmospheric "after-hours tune" in a harmonic style that is more explicitly tonal than that of "Octaves." Jazz-like pitch and timbre inflections, which for the most part are absent from the first movement, are introduced in "Night Song" and then are used more prominently in "Departures." The form of "Departures" is the result of a process in which tempos, textures, repetitive figurations, and harmonic progressions are established and then negated in ways so as to set up arrival points at new musical territories. "Departures" might be thought of as a voyage that ultimately takes the listener back to the two primary musical environments out of which were generated the materials of the first two movements: namely, the milieu of modern jazz and that of the neoclassic music of Igor Stravinsky. (The notes for Interplay were adapted from those of the composer. Ruggiero participated in the recording session of the work at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.)
11Sonata for Oboe and Piano I. Élégie
12Sonata for Oboe and Piano II. Scherzo
13Sonata for Oboe and Piano III. Déploration
14Four Impromptus No. 1. In Nomine Igor Stravinsky
15Four Impromptus No. 2. In Nomine Benjamin Britten
16Four Impromptus No. 3. In Nomine Roberto Gerhard
17Four Impromptus No. 4. In Nomine Nadia Boulanger
18Prélude, Cadence et Finale
19Six Studies in English Folksong No. 1. Lovely on the Water
110Six Studies in English Folksong No. 2. Spurn Point
111Six Studies in English Folksong No. 3. She Borrowed Some of Her Mother's Gold
112Six Studies in English Folksong No. 4. The Lady and the Dragoon
113Six Studies in English Folksong No. 5. Van Diemen's Land
114Six Studies in English Folksong No. 6. As I Walked Over London Bridge
115Interplay I. Octaves
116Interplay II. Night Song
117Interplay III. Departures