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Beau Blayton, alto saxophone
Mike Barnhouse, piano
This recital is presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in performance. Mr. Cayton is a student in the saxophone studio of Dr. Edwin Bingham.
John Harbison (b. 1938) is one of America's most prominent composers. His compositions have earned a Pulitzer Prize, a Kennedy Center Friedheim First Prize, a MacArthur Fellowship, and the Heinz Award. Composed in 1994, his San Antonio Sonata has become one of his most popular compositions. Each of the three movements is a contrasting dance propelled by Latin rhythms. Conveyed through the music, Sun Antonio tells a story of a wandering traveler and his discovery of fiesta while passing through San Antonio, Texas on a hot August day. While a majority of the work’s tone is festival, it does contain an undertone of a lost romance that is evoked with a shiver of reminiscent excitement. As the end approaches, the work draws on popular genres for its source material: salsa, Cuban, and other Latin idioms. Harbison includes the following musical program in the score:
Movement I. The Summons: The wandering traveler has a free afternoon in San Antonio. It is August and the heat is sweltering, above one-hundred degrees. The traveler expected to start with a relaxing walk along side of a nearby river. Instead, this wonderer is interrupted by a distant sound. Curious, he follows it up a long stairway and finds himself in the middle of a small fiesta in a hot non-shaded square with many in attendance. He notices a few people dancing to a fast beat to the sound of the mariachi band playing and singing in Spanish.
Movement II. Line Dance: The first dancers finish their celebratory dance and are exhausted from the humidity. All of a sudden, as if it were choreographed, the whole crowd of party goers gets into a long line of people of all ages. They all know the steps, which change with the musical phrases.
Movement III. Last Dance: The music decelerates like a musical engine revving down. The people break apart from the line and pair up into couples. At this point, no one seems to be bothered by the heat as if they are in some kind of trance, and the band hardly stops. Everyone, including the traveler, sinks into the sound of the music. Near the end of the music and the fiesta, a young girl asks the traveler to dance. However, he declines the dance. But a year later when thinking of that hot August day, the tourist puts down the memory of the sounds of the little fiesta. He is stricken with something about a saxophone, along with a few rhythms in his distorted memory and he accepts his interpretation.
Composed in 1981, Elegy II by American composer Elliot. Del Borgo. (b. 1938) utilizes strict rhythms and changing time signatures and is cast in eight distinct sections separated by brief moments of silence as well as changes in tempo and mood. The piece is similar to a variation form, which is best described as material that returns consistently through each of the eight sections. However this is not the case since thematic material is not present in all sections of the piece. Instead, the work is verified as a sectional form by distinct breaks that occur between sections.
The purpose of Section I is to state the main theme of the work. This theme can be heard in the opening seconds after the first statement of the saxophone. This theme is not only important in that it recurs frequently, but it is also used to create various motives throughout the duration of the piece.
Section II contrasts greatly from section I in that it begins at a more rapid pace and remains. This section is virtuosic in nature and showcases the saxophonist's technique through several challenging passages. Del Borgo alternates these rapid passages between two different rhythms. The section closes with soft trills that contrast with the energy of the preceding material.
Section Ill is a brief passage that acts a moment of transition. This section is slow and lyrical in its sound, much like that of the opening of Section I. It is important to listen closely to this section as it is the first to distinctly incorporate the main theme heard in the opening of the work.
Section IV abruptly interrupts Section III with more rapid passages. The melodic content in within this section is the largest departure from the tonal material presented in the earlier sections. The less tonal passages of this section are based upon what is called the Hungarian scale (also known as the Gypsy scale). However, as a method of transition, the section is closed by a simple melodic line which is played on one note in octaves.
Section V is brief and continues the one note melodic line that closed the previous section. Del Bargo uses this simple line to take the performer into the highest register of the saxophone where the original theme is stated.
Section VI is another sudden departure from previous material. Del Borgo again uses the material from the main theme to open the main motive for this section as he previously did in section III. Del Borgo develops this motive throughout this section by having the performer play it in differing registers of the saxophone and by changing the rhythmic meter to vary the line.
Like Section III, Section VII acts a transition. The section begins with material that is introduced in the final moments of Section VI. Del Borgo again uses the main theme but manipulates it. The beginning of this section uses fast, driving rhythms. However, this high energy quickly vanishes and should act as a signal to the listener that the final section is approaching.
To conclude, Section VIII begins with the work's final utterance of the main theme. This section, while slower at first, begins to accelerate, much like the opening of Section II. To close this section and the piece Del Borgo creates a conclusive sounding passage that ascends to the final note.
John David Lamb (b. 1935) is an American composer known for his saxophone compositions. Saxophone music has been incorporated in his compositional output since he first heard the playing of German born American saxophonist Sigurd Rascher in 1960. Rascher's musicianship and technique opened Lamb to the possibilities of the instrument. Aside from finding inspiration in Rascher's technique, he also found it in Rascher's charming way of persuading every composer he met to write music for him. As the years passed, with the constant coaxing and support from Rascher, Lamb produced twelve works for saxophone that range from a small suite for unaccompanied alto saxophone to a masterful symphony for a large saxophone ensemble and percussion. These saxophone works are representative of the music that Lamb was writing at every period in his life.
Lamb's Sonata for Soprano Saxophone and Piano contains well-defined material and thoughtful development which are simplest building blocks of his compositional catalogue for and outside of the saxophone. Lamb uses the harmonies within this Sonata to serve a dual purpose, one for emotional effect and the other as a tool for structure. Lamb chose to compose this sonata for saxophone in order to express its lyrical abilities. The work contains natural-sounding melodies, yet simple melodies that stick in the minds and hearts of the listener. This kind of melody writing and compositional technique is a risky endeavor for Lamb in such a cynical time where simple melody writing was thought to be mindless and contained no effort. The melodies and tunes contained in the Sonata and in the other works of Lamb are meant to simply be an honest gift for all the members of the audience to take home with them and remember after the concert.
The Sonata for soprano and piano was composed and first appeared in 1961. Originally, it was intended as a modest sonatina written for Carina Rascher, daughter of Sigurd Rascher. More than twenty-five years passed before Lamb himself heard the work performed in its entirety. At this time Lamb realized that the material had potential which he had not fully utilized. With this realization, Lamb made major revisions to the work in the late 1980's. Lamb chose to expand the first and last movements, and the second movement was completely replaced with a new and more completely developed composition.
One of the revisions that Lamb made was the incorporation of the Viennese folk song Ach du Lieber Augustine, which is easily recognized. Ach du Lieber Augustine was composed in 1679 by bagpiper and poet Marx Augustin. The incorporation of this tune in the closing moments of the piece is a reflection of Lamb's German heritage. Gradually, through the patient encouragement of another saxophonist, Paul Cohen, the sonatina continued to mature into a new fully grown sonata that retained little more than a shell of the basic thematic material from the earlier version. While the work in its current form is drastically different from its original edition, the original light-hearted mood still prevails and the sassy final pages remain unchanged.
Libby Larsen's (b. 1950) Holy Roller was composed in 1997 and commissioned by saxophonist Paul Bro. Holy Roller was premiered at the World Saxophone Congress in Valencia, Spain. Originally, the work was supposed to be based on the first twelve notes of Patsy Cline's "I Fall to Pieces." However, Sony would not release the rights to Larsen to do so. Ultimately, Larsen's idea for the work became inspired by classic revival preaching and evolved into Holy Roller. The music flows directly from this language that cajoles, incarnates, and repeats. At the same time, the music magnetizes and mesmerizes the listener with its irresistible invocations. The music is the language, the language is the music and the result moves the spirit to other states of being.
The form of Holy Roller is rhapsodic and unpredictable, as is the revivalist preaching the piece is imitating. The work begins with an extensive freely played solo for the saxophone in the manner of a bold invocation. The first few moments of the recitative present two motives which are prominently used throughout the piece.
In the final moments of the opening saxophone recitative, the saxophone states the opening gesture of Oh When the Saints Go Marching In, which is followed by a strong response from the piano. The saxophone then "whispers" the gesture, and the piano follows with a quiet, mysterious reply. From here, the saxophone strongly asserts the descending minor third motive and follows up with a dramatic outburst which then diminishes. The piano continues by quoting the hymn Shall We Gather at the River, which is hidden within the accompaniment.
Throughout the piece the saxophone and piano explore a variety of musical styles and characters that include: hymns that are hidden in the saxophone and piano, honky-tonk, ragtime, swing, soft-shoe, and expressive playing. These styles and characteristics once again play off frequent quotation and variation on melodic elements of Shall We Gather at the River.
The saxophone and piano engage in a ferocious "call and response". It is important to listen closely throughout the piece for this call and response not only to hear the quotation of the hymn, but also to hear the saxophone's imitation of a preacher and the piano's imitation of the congregation. The melodic movement continues in the piano and is based on parallel chords which end dramatically with a hammering sound. The saxophone then plays a brief cadenza that incorporates Shall We Gather.
The piano invokes another hymn by quoting God Be with You Till We Meet Again, which alternates with expressive responses on Shall We Gather from the saxophone and provides dissonant counterpoint to the piano. Thundering, unaccompanied statements by the saxophone lead into the concluding "Fire and Brimstone" section which incorporates the important call and response between the saxophone and piano. The piano establishes a syncopated groove in the left hand that provides great drive and energy throughout much of this concluding section of the piece. Melodic motives from Shall We Gather and Oh When the Saints are frequently heard in the piano's right hand and the saxophone. Occasional breaks in the "Fire and Brimstone" ostinato and changes in meter provide contrast and unpredictability which leads into the final recitative in the saxophone. After a brief pause, the piano re-enters with the "Fire and Brimstone" ostinato with the saxophone playing impassioned, lyrical lines above it, drawn from the Shall We Gather motive. The piece is concluded by a dramatic, three-octave descending line in the saxophone that is punctuated by the piano.
I would like to extend a special thanks to Mike Barnhouse for his willingness, time, and hard work in accompanying me for this recital. Thank you to Fred Workman for managing pages. Thank you to the stage crew and ushers for ensuring everything run smoothly. Finally, I would like to extend a special thank you to Dr. Bingham for his excellent instruction and guidance in saxophone during my time at Marshall.
Smith Recital Hall
recitals, saxophone, sonata, new music
Arts and Humanities | Fine Arts | Music | Music Performance
Clayton, Beau, "Marshall University Music Department Presents a Senior Recital, Beau Clayton, saxophone, accompanied by Mike Barnhouse, piano" (2009). All Performances. 508.