Introduction and Capriccio (1981), Stephen Parisi

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Introduction and Capriccio (1981), Stephen Parisi
Year of Composition: 1981    

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Introduction
Capriccio

Recordings

Amherst Saxophone Quartet: Creston, Mols, Parisi, Wilder
Amherst Saxophone Quartet: Creston, Mols, Parisi, Wilder
Salvatore Andolina, soprano
Michael Nascimben, alto
Stephen Rosenthal, tenor
Harry Fackelman, baritone
1984

AMHERST SAXOPHONE QUARTET

ALEC WILDER was born in Rochester, New York on February 16, 1907. He studied composition with Herbert Inch and Edward Royce. Wilder was best known for his work in New York City as a composer of music for the theater, radio, and films. He wrote popular songs and arranged music for Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, and others. He was also a prolific composer of "concert music," especially for wind instruments. Most of his serious compositions, in particular his chamber music, are in an affable, hedonistic, and ingratiating style, according to Baker. The SAXOPHONE QUARTET fits this characterization perfectly.

SAXOPHONE QUARTET
"The Wilder QUARTET was purchased in late 1980 as part of the continuous process of upgrading our library. Our first official performance of this work occurred on November 4, 1981. The period between the purchase and the' performance began with an argument within the quartet which took more than a year to resolve. Our initial reading of the work brought out numerous harmonic and melodic peculiarities which were the subject of much heated discussion. I felt some of this manuscript was not what the composer had originally intended. After much discussion and further rehearsing it was decided to try to get a score. Through the courtesy of Bruce Creditor, the general manager of Margun Music, Inc., we received a photocopy of the original pencil score. In spite of the difficulty in reading the copy, a great many questions were answered, mostly in the realm of transpositional discrepancies from score to parts. In a few instances I felt it was necessary to actually change some pitches because they were either indecipherable or did not make harmonic sense. The end result of all this editing was over ISO changes in the four saxophone parts. These changes were made in the hopes of recovering and maintaining the spirit, intent, and integrity of the original work. The QUARTET certainly has become one of our favorite works and will always hold a respected position in our repertoire." —Dr. Michael D. Nascimben

ROBERT MOLS, a native of Buffalo, New York, attended the Eastman School of Music where he obtained his Ph.D. degree and performance certificate on flute. At Eastman, he studied composition with Howard Hanson and Wayne Barlow. He also did advanced study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. In 1953 he joined the faculty at the University of Buffalo as head of the theoretical and instrumental divisions.

As a composer and recipient of grants and commissions, his compositions have received numerous performances in this country and abroad, including performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Several works for flute, including "Excursion" for flute choir, were recently published by the Franzipani Press.

ENCHAINMENT
"Having written many dance band arrangements as a saxophonist-clarinetist during my early professional career, I was truly excited when asked by the Amherst Saxophone Quartet to write a concert piece for them. Knowing each of the players personally, their exceptional skills and musicianship, and their great ensemble, I knew what sort of piece I wanted to compose — lyric, expressive, partially jazzy, innovative, and with some special effects and blends. All of these elements were to be linked or 'chained' together to form one continuous through-composed movement in three basic sections — hence, ENCHAINMENT." —Robert Mols

STEPHEN PARISI was born on November 11, 1955 in Buffalo, New York to music-loving parents who started him on piano at the age of seven. At age fifteen, he became a student of Ann Moot, who was very inspirational both musically and creatively. His ambition to become a composer led him to the State University of New York at Buffalo on full scholarship. He studied composition with Leo Smit and has obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Music degree. Mr. Parisi currently divides his time between teaching, performing and composing. He lives in Grand Island, New York with his wife and daughter.

INTRODUCTION AND CAPRICCIO
The INTRODUCTION opens choral-like in nature and is transformed into a dialogue between soprano and alto saxophones leading to a sonorous climax. The movement returns to the long lyrical phrases and choral texture of the opening measures.

The CAPRICCIO is a juxtaposition of themes or episodes of various kinds which follow one another. This wide variety of textures give the piece the aspect of caprice from which its name is derived.

"I feel my purpose or goal as a composer is to arouse and use the listeners' stream of consciousness from the first note to the last, while at the same time exemplifying some type of musical structure." —Stephen Parisi

PAUL CRESTON was born on October 10, 1906, in New York City, of Italian parentage. Completely self-taught in composition and orchestration, he has contributed a full range of music with over 120 major works: piano pieces, songs, chamber music for various instrumental combinations, choral works, cantatas, an oratorio, ten symphonic band works, and over 35 orchestral works which include six symphonies and 15 concertos.

His numerous awards and honors include: Music Critics' Circle Award and First Prize in the Paris International Referendum of 1952 for his Symphony No.1; National Institute of Arts and Letters award; two Citations of Honor from the National Association for American Composers and Conductors; and two Guggenheim Fellowships. In 1960 he received a State Department grant as American Specialist in Israel and Turkey.

SUITE FOR SAXOPHONE QUARTET
The SUITE was composed in 1979 and premiered the same year by the Swiss Saxophone Quartet at the Saxophone Congress held in Chicago. The work is his fifth and latest for Saxophone. The other four are: SUITE, Op.6 - Saxophone and Piano, SONATA, Op. 19 - Saxophone and Piano, CONCERTO, Op. 26 - Saxophone and Orchestra or Symphony Band, and RHAPSODIE, Op. 108 - Saxophone and Organ or Piano.

The SUITE FOR SAXOPHONE QUARTET is vintage Creston and confirms his acknowledged love of the instrument. The unusual "alert" rhythms, sensuous lyricism, rich harmonies, and structural solidity which have been the hallmark of Creston's style, are constantly in evidence. His clear understanding of the instrument's technique was gained from his association with saxophonist Cecil Leeson as pianist for his recitals, and for whom he wrote the first three works for the instrument.

AMHERST SAXOPHONE QUARTET
The AMHERST SAXOPHONE QUARTET has performed in the United States from coast to coast, has been broadcast on national radio on numerous occasions, and is regularly heard throughout the world on Voice of America. The group was formed in 1978 and continues with the original members. It has played more than 50 concerts a year since 1981. The New York Times called the first of the Quartet's Carnegie Hall concerts "first rate in every respect."

The Amherst Quartet performs the standard works composed for saxophone quartet. In addition to this large repertoire, it has developed a unique library of manuscripts which includes many commissions and also music of the Baroque era, Jazz, Avant Garde, and Ragtime. The group's close association with renowned composer-pianist Eubie Blake resulted in a recording of his delightful rags.

Along with a busy chamber music schedule, the ASQ has appeared as guest soloist with orchestras including both the Rochester and Buffalo Philharmonics.

SALVATORE ANDOLINA, soprano, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and John Sedola and clarinet with James Pyne and Stanley Hasty. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music from the State University of New York at Buffalo which he attended on an Arts Foundation scholarship. Mr. Ao/iolina was bass clarinet/saxophonist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the 1978-79 season, clarinetist with that orchestra for the 1983-84 season, and has performed with the Artpark Orchestra.

MICHAEL NASCIMBEN, alto, studied saxophone with Larry Teal and Sigurd Rascher. He received both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan. Dr. Nascimben has served on the faculties of the University of Texas at Austin and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has performed with the Detroit Symphony, Austin Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and was a founding member of the West Point Saxophone Quartet. Dr. Nascimben is an Artist/Clinician with the Selmer Saxophone Company.

STEPHEN ROSENTHAL, tenor, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and John Sedola, and clarinet with James Pyne. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music Performance from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Rosenthal has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Empire State Wind Ensemble.

HARRY FACKELMAN, baritone, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and clarinet with Allen Sigel. He received a Master of Fine Arts in Music from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Fackelman has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Empire State Wind Ensemble.

THIS RECORDING PROJECT IS SUPPORTED BY A GRANT FROM THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS.

Executive Producer: Vincent S. Morene
Recorded in Christ the King Chapel at Canisius College, Buffalo, NY
Recording Engineer: Frederick A. Betschen Jr., Assistant Engineer: Mark J. Morette
Mastering: The Groove Shop, Engineer: Bob Grotke
Album Design: Mary Lu Littlefield
Photography: Mary Fote, Joe Saccomanno
Type: Printing Prep

Review

Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Thursday, November 13, 1997
Quartet's second time around is no mistake
Herman Trotter

In celebrating its 20th anniversary this season, the Amherst Saxophone Quartet reprised, in its initial concert, its very first concert. For the second set, it is replaying a 1982 Carnegie Hall concert.

"It was a watershed for us," said spokesman Stephen Rosenthal, "because the fine review which the New York Times gave us was a springboard to a long and healthy career."

After hearing the concert again, it's clear that the Times' positive review was earned.

The strong, fascinating program centered on two works written for the pioneering Marcel Mule Quartet: the 1931 Quartet in B-Flat, Op. 109 by Glazunov and the 1937 Quartet, Op. 31 by Belgian composer Jean Absil.

The Glazunov Quartet is typical of the composer's immaculately tailored construction.

The first movement was an easy reminiscence at the outset, unfolding into a section of increasing intricacy in which the tempo gradually increased to an all-out sprint.
 
Glazunov's mastery of harmony and instrumentation allowed the quartet to bring out its mellow, rich sounds, which were captivating even in the low-ceilinged confines of the Bijou Grille.

The central movement offers some of the most gorgeous sonorities in the repertory. It's an extended set of variations on a warm, beautifully harmonized chorale-like theme that is gradually increased in tempo to a crisp, clean, scampering Scherzo finale. Along the way, my fancy was particularly taken by the second variation built on trills which ping-pong back and forth among the instruments as the music's ruminations are worked out, and by the fourth, in which a chromatically wandering idea is given a seductive, very close harmonization.

The Finale clips along with punchy accents and an intriguing downward walking theme, accelerating to another exciting conclusion.

Absil's quartet was well placed in the wake of the Glazunov work because it had its own virtues without any sense of competition or imitation. Its three movements offered a jocular tune that echoed among the saxes, a slow Nocturne full of wavering figures under a lazy, descending theme, and a cleverly fragmented staccato Finale.

The concert had opened with Robert Clerisse's 1957 "Introduction and Scherzo," built on oft-changing moods in both of its sections. In its brevity it seems something of a bauble, but its excellent construction and wealth of pithy, short, occasionally sentimental ideas lift it well above the realm of the trivial.

The second half of the concert was all American, opening with Paul Creston's four-movement 1979 Suite, Op. 111. Variety of texture and rhythm was the attraction here. There were briskly paced, eccentric walking figures; odd; ear-catching rhythmic changes; gently flowing lines; and a perpetual motion Finale in which I doubt there was a single rest for anyone.

Buffalo composer Stephen Parisi's 1981 "Introduction and Capriccio," written for the quartet, pitted the opening's dreamy treble ambience 'with some surprising moments of depth against the rapid-fire Capriccio, with several energizing changes of rhythm and meter, and bursts of staccato playing like islands in the musical sea.

The quartet concluded with four trademark rags by Eubie Blake. "Poor Katie Redd" bounced along between a swagger and a strut; "Valse Marion" was slow and homey, generously strewn with exaggerated rubato; "Dictys on Seventh Avenue" was more strictly written, but without losing its ragtime rhythmic kick; and "Charleston Rag" a classic of the genre, barreled along over a wonderful descending baritone line.

Quatuor (1931), Alexander Glazunov
Quatuor pour saxophones, op. 31, Jean Absil
Introduction et Scherzo (1957), Robert Clerisse
Suite for Saxophone Quartet (1979), Paul Creston
Introduction and Capriccio (1981), Stephen Parisi
Quartet's second time around is no mistake
News-Gazette (Lexington, VA)
Wednesday, November 4, 1987
Quartet's Showmanship Dazzling
James W.H. Stewart Jr.

"And here we go with another classical saxophone recital," tenor sax maniac Steven Rosenthal mock-solemnly intones, a seemingly matter-of-fact introduction. But, as a matter of fact, can you state the place, time of day, month and year when you last attended (let alone stayed awake at) a classical saxophone recital? You might be hard pressed to remember, unless you saw the Johnny Carson show in 1985 when the Amherst Saxophone Quartet unleashed its brand of impeccable musicianship and P.D.Q. Bach showmanship on insomniacs everywhere.

The volatile ingredients of the Amherst Saxophone Quartet are Salvatore Andolina, soprano saxophone; Michael Nascimben, alto saxophone; Steven Rosenthal, tenor saxophone; and Harry Fackelman, baritone saxophone. This configuration parellels that of the string quartet and adds to their argument that European classical music had a repertoire and tradition for saxophone well before Amencan jazz made the saxophone America's premier instrument. On Wednesday, Oct. 28, the quartet Seminary Junior College.

Essentially, European composers have treated the saxophone as a woodwind instrument from the invention of the family by Adolph Sax in 1846, while jazz and popular styles treated saxophones more as brass instruments with harsher, brighter sonorities. The Amherst Quartet's program explored the saxophone's remarkable potential for chamber music with a wide variety of delightful pieces by regrettably obscure composers.

The Introduction et Scherzo and "Serenade Melancolique" by Robert Clerisse alternated roundlike among the instruments with smooth neoclassical tunes, suggesting what Mozart might have written for the saxophone had he lived to hear it. The "Serenade" also showed the influence of Debussy with its piquant, whole tones.
 
"Sevilla," a transcription of a piece composed by Isaac Albeniz around the turn of the century, featured typically Spanish rhythms in 6/8 time. But the development of the piece was anything but typical, with some shining soliloquies for the soprano sax, while baritonist Fackelman honked amusingly in the deep register.

Rosenthal introduced the next piece as "the brilliantly entitled Quartuor por Saxophones," which means quartet for saxophones, by Joseph Jongen (1942). In one movement, the piece's gradual transition to an eloquent andante, then to a final snake dancelike allegro, gives the impression of three distinct movements. Oddly, the soprano and alto saxes foreshadowed the four-note "Twilight Zone" motif, written almost 20 years later than this piece, while a smooth melody for tenor sax floated over. But there is basically nothing otherworldly about this sociably droll music. Like a Tom and Jerry cartoon, whose music the piece also predicts, the impression is given that each member of the cast will get up and shake hands after the cream and seltzer' water have been mopped up.

The Introduction and Capriccio by Steven Parisi showcased Andolina's remarkable gift for making his soprano sax sound uncommonly like a flute, oboe, clarinet and even trumpet! The Capriccio also featured some devilishly tricky ensemble rhythms handled with aplomb.

After a brief intermission, the group returned with a transcription by altoist Nascimbom of Bach's Toccata and Fugue in D minor. Subjected to innumerable transcriptions by the likes of Stokowski, the Swingle Singers, and Walter Wendy Carlos, this great warhorse got a fine treatment by the players, excepting some minor fudging by the soprano and alto. But for a cake as nice as this, a little fudge is just a minor sin. Of course, I would never be so heartless a reviewer as to suggest that the reason this was the only piece with mistakes was that it was the only piece on the program I knew. A fine reading overall.

The Quartet for Saxophone, Op. 31, by Jean Absil, exploited massed trills and tremulos to great sonic effect, with some more amusing quotes. The second movement opening suggests the beginning of the third movement of Beethoven's Ninth Symphony, while the third movement opening mimicked the speakeasy intro of Gershwin's "Rhapsody in Blue." I suppose this provides a nice illustration of how the motifs of nauseatingly overplayed classics can be used to introduce pieces that are totally unrelated. The piece was great fun and deserves to be heard again.

The last two segments of the program brought the saxophone back to its American jazz and ragtime roots, and neatly completed in my mind the perception of jazz and ragtime as American classical music. The "Jazz Vignettes" by Andrew White and the transcriptions of Eubie Blake's ragtimes made light of the contributions of the Count Basie big band and Lester Young, among others, who discovered whole new ways of writing for and playing the saxophone. These contributions again sounded fresh against the historical context with which the quartet contrasted them. The Amherst Saxophone Quartet has contributed immeasurably to our understanding of the "yakkety sax."

At the end, having imitated the flute, oboe, clarinet, trumpet and even Lawrence Wclk 's accordian, soprano saxist Andolina topped it all by mimicking the harp. I am referring, of course. to his ridiculous Harpo Marx gestures, inciting the crowd to clap and shut up by turns. And as if all of that were not enough, when Rosenthal made a mock pathetic appeal to the audience to buy the albums in the lobby, Andolina, while the baritonist played a maudlin tune, held his soprano sax to his neck like a violin and "played" with an imaginary bow. One more corny gesture like that, and the audience might well have imitated violence. An educational good time was had by all.

Quatuor pour saxophones, op. 31, Jean Absil
Introduction and Capriccio (1981), Stephen Parisi
Quatuor, op. 122 (1942), Joseph Jongen
Sevilla, Isaac Albéniz
Introduction et Scherzo (1957), Robert Clerisse
Serenade Melancolique, Robert Clérisse
Quartet's Showmanship Dazzling

Composer Biography

1955 —

STEPHEN PARISI (b. 1955) was born in Buffalo to music loving parents who started him on piano at the age of seven. By the time he was 10 he had already written over 50 compositions. His passion for music and ambition to become a composer led him to the University at Buffalo on a full Fine Arts Scholarship. He studied piano with Yvar Mikhashoff and composition with Leo Smit and obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Music degree. He has written numerous works for the Amherst Saxophone Quartet. Two movements of his Saxophone Quartet No.1 were performed by the ASQ at Carnegie Hall in 1982. His music is characterized by facility, heartfelt melodies, syncopated rhythms, counterpoint, and lush jazz harmonies.