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3716 Views 20 Replies 14 Participants Last post by  J.Max
I think it's time to stimulate a bit of discussion in this section. I can feel the tumbleweeds on some days :) Instead of starting my usual French vs Rascher debate though, I thought I'd try something more constructive.

There's a lot of talk about standard repertoire in the saxophone world, but how do you define it? Obviously there's a canon of works for older instruments, but it's a bit more murky for the saxophone since most of the repertoire is from the modern era. There are a few that are obvious (not an all inclusive list, obviously):

Ibert - Concertino Da Camera
Glazunov - Concerto
Creston - Sonata
Maurice - Tableaux De Provence
Heiden - Sonata
Milhaud - Scaramouche (I hate this piece, BTW. Just thought I'd throw that in.)

But what else qualifies? The Denisov Sonata? The Noda Improvisations? The Muczsynki Sonata? The Fuzzy Bird? (Lord help us if THAT'S considered "standard")

Let's discuss.
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J.Max said:
But what else qualifies? The Denisov Sonata? The Noda Improvisations? The Muczsynki Sonata? The Fuzzy Bird? (Lord help us if THAT'S considered "standard")
I believe that the above mentioned would all have to be considered standard (if by standard you mean frequently performed). Fuzzy Bird would be one of the most performed/recorded works of the last 10 years.

In terms of old standards we cant forget Bonneau "Caprice en forme de valse", Desenclos and the Hindemith Sonata.

But we also have the new standards. With works by the likes of Berio, Lauba and ter Veldhuis.
It's interesting how pieces gains credibility. When Dr.Rousseau brought the Desenclos back with him after studying in paris, everyone said the piece was impossible. Now, its a right of passage for many serious players during their last years in high school!

Fuzzy Bird is indeed a standard in my book. Its one of those pieces that has great appeal from both audience and performer standpoints. Denisov is indeed another standard now. You can't get away with -not- learning this one anymore. KLONOS has quickly taken a spot among our other most performed works as well, and its just over 12 years old!

As our instrument evolves, so does its players. We are now required to do much more in the way of new music, since that is a place composers move more towards every day. It would be difficult (not impossible) to make a career playing only 'old standards'.

Good topic.
Steve P
There was this piece that every tenor player was playing in my state's high school music contest.

I believe the name was Sonata in C minor, and it was by Telleman. It was originally written for flute or something, but it seems that every high school has it in their library.

Also, there is that one Fantasia song that a lot of people play on soprano?
Yeah it's a paltry list. This is particularly true when you compare it to other woodwind instruments, for instance the clarinet where you have and abundance of Weber, Brahms (two sonatas), Mozart, (the Concerto and the Quintet), Stravinsky, Saint-Saens, Poulenc.

That's just a comparison to a WIND instrument, too! The sax list is seems even more piecemeal when you compare to the works of the 'cello or violin!

I think if the Glazounov (in my opinion, the highest quality work written for saxophone) were written for the violin, it would be a relatively minor work.

That said,

I think the standards of our rep are:

Elegie et Rondo (Husa)
Fantasia (soprano) Villa Lobos
Tableaux De Provence

Yeah Debussy wrote for the saxophone... But all we really need to know about that piece is its title, Rapsodie for Orchestra et Saxophone. Note that Orchestra comes before saxophone.

I have left off recent compositions. Not that familiar with them, and I think works have to have stick around a while before we can them "standard rep".

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I think whats standard changes from country to country especially for an instrument that is so young as ours.
For example, the HEIDEN is not one classed as a standard in Australia, (would you agree A.Smith) because i dont think it has been performed there in the last 5 years. Where as pieces by Australian composers are becoming standards there, such as phosperic variations and Beat me.
In the UK there is also alot of pieces that are standards that may not be throughout Europe and America. Such as the Andy Scott works.

I think it would be cool if we named the pieces that are standard where we live that way we might all have a chance to play some great new music (or at least new to us). Im definately going to checkout the HEIDEN now.

Given that there has been as much repertoire for our instrument written after 1970 as there was prior to it, the Denisov serves as a dividing line between "old standards" and "new standards," the former consisting of music that is written for the saxophone, while the latter consists of music of the saxophone. The difference is a crucial one, and one that is central to Londeix's writings.

The new (solo repertoire) standards would include, among a great many others:

Denisov Sonate and Sonate for Saxophone and Cello
Noda-Improvisations, Mai, Pulse, Requiem, Phoenix
Lauba-9 Etudes, Steady Study, Dream in a Bar, Hard
Rosse-Le Frêne Égaré
Engebretson-She Sings She Screams, Energy Drink I
Robert Lemay-Solitude Oubliée
Stockhausen-In Freundschaft
Ter Veldhuis-Grab It, Billie, The Garden of Love

Of course, if we expand our scope to look at recent chamber repertoire, we get into Xenakis, Glass, Gavin Bryars, and countless other substantive works.

I would agree that our "old standard" repertoire is somewhat limited in comparision to that of other instruments, given the relatively late arrival of the saxophone. However, our "new standard" repertoire, rooted in the vast capabilities of our instrument rather than in an antique musical vocabulary, is growing at an extraordinary pace, and includes much repertoire of great quality, as so many living composers have embraced the saxophone.
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I totally agree Mr Byrnes, Heiden doesn't get performed in Aus (personally I don't like the piece so I can understand why), and yes each country has their own standards. Cockcroft's music is taught and performed here regularly, however our American friends have works like Tower's Wings that gets performed their frequently (but not in the EU or here). The UK love their their saxtet publications with Nigel Wood and crew.

So besides the really big works, their is variation.
Well Wings is an arrangement, as are the Sequenzas that we play - so does that make the Marcello Oboe Concerto standard in the sax rep?

How are we defining 'standard'? I know as a jazz player, the standards are the ones everybody knows - the common ground - but that would leave out a lot of our best works, like Lilith - which I think is one of our very best pieces, but definitely not played much. And what about the quartet by Anton Webern?

Perhaps we should have a seperate category for Standard/Regularly Performed vs. Standard/Landmark Pieces.

I'd like to put in a vote for Villa-Lobos, Dahl and the Lennon "Distances"....

I also agree that standard is subject to regional interpretation, but on a much more local level. I know the students at Michigan have a different twist on standard than the students at Michigan State, and that's only an hour's drive!
Standards from my neck of the woods that haven't already been listed by someone else would include pieces like,

Suite by Haba
various works by Glaser
Partita by Dressel
Through a Glass Darkly by Kox
Plac Saxofonu by Macha
Jeptha by Wirth
Duo by Hartley
That scares me to think of Through a Glass Darkly as a standard..... :/

And weird to think about Haba and the Macha being standards since i don't think they're published? Regardless I only have photo copies of those pieces.
How about the two Husa pieces:
Elegie et Rondeau

edit (sorry read too quickly through qwerty's list first time)

And Leslie Babbit:
Music for Saxophone and Piano
Well, from my neck of the woods I am referring to the "Rascher" school, and I listed those as standard because even though the Haba and Macha are not published they are performed on a regular basis because they are too good not to perform. People find a way to procure works regardless of the publishing status.

Through a Glass Darkly is a work I see programmed on a regular basis as well (within the Rascher school, again).

As someone else pointed out, regions will have different "standards" and this goes for the different approaches we take to playing as well. There are pieces already listed as standard that I will probably never perform and there are pieces that most on this forum would not consider standard that I and others will always teach to our students. the Haba and Macha are two of them.
Well, at my age I don't consider myself Rascherional or Rousseautonian, or even Tealian, Sampenish, Hemkefied, or Sintaful. More like a touch of hakukannicity. :D

I have always enjoyed performing the Dressel Partita, and furthurmore every pianist I've played it with has thoroughly enjoyed it.

The Hartley Duo is a nicely structured piece--although it's been about 30 years since I last played or heard it.
Can I get an Albright Sonata anybody?? I would also like to think of the Creston Concerto and Smith's Fatasia as standards. Let us not forget the countless pieces that may not be overwhelmingly difficult but still great pieces in the repertoire. Also, the composer may also be a big factor in what is standard (i.e. Pulitzer prize winning ones such as Bassett and Bolcom).

Some more:
Benson - Aeolian Song
Boutry - Divertimento
Decruck - Sonata (should be a "standard" within a couple years)
Whitney - Intro and Samba
Decruck. Our finest sonata. I'll be recording this one for my CD in just a few weeks. It doesn't get much better than Decruck for me. I could play that work all day every day.

Amen to Albright. It's a milestone in the repertoire, and a right of passage for all saxophonists.

Steve P
Michigansax said:
Can I get an Albright Sonata anybody?? I would also like to think of the Creston Concerto and Smith's Fatasia as standards. Let us not forget the countless pieces that may not be overwhelmingly difficult but still great pieces in the repertoire. Also, the composer may also be a big factor in what is standard (i.e. Pulitzer prize winning ones such as Bassett and Bolcom.
A couple of comments about this particular post...First, I'd love to think of the Smith Fantasia as a standard, but it just isn't. It's probably my favorite piece (I am a bit biased since I met the man shortly before he died), but it's rarely played on recitals and I only know of 3 recordings, one of which is by the guy to whom it is dedicated (Dale Underwood), one of which was from a student band competition (Otis Murphy, albeit a VERY, VERY good national high school honor band), and one which I'm not sure has a commercial release (Kenneth Tse).

And while "big name composer status" is a SMALL factor, I don't think it's very important. Bassett and Bolcom may have won Pulitzers, but I think most people would put Hindemith and Debussy higher up on the hierarchy and their pieces just aren't very good. (I personally feel that the Debussy is a standard repertoire piece, because of the shear number of recordings of it, but that doesn't make it a particularly good piece of music especially in the Roger-Ducasse/Durand edition. Rousseau's and Rascher's are much better, but they aren't the normal choices to be played.)
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Perhaps I thought of the Smith because within the last couple of years I've noticed a lot more performances of the piece and more and more people are working on it. Is an outstanding piece? Probably not, but it's very listener friendly.
The Villa-Lobos definitely has to be considered a standard. And don't forget Bozza's Aria and Improvisation et Caprice.

If you're going to count quartets, well there's a ton of them. Desenclos, Dubois, Glazunov, Bozza, Francaix, Rivier.
I listened to the Villa-Lobos last night and I agree, that should be a standard.
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