Set, as the title indicates, in A, the guitar parts are in a familiar and reassuring 3#, but the Eb sax player is condemned to stare at 6#.
The result, however, is compelling. At points in the piece, all guitars are strumming large root-position chords at full volume, allowing the sax to open up and sing with joy. And the contrast between that and some pizz. guitar and dolce sax is all the more delicious because the key choice gives the guitar such a large dynamic range.
The opening sees the sax play a “quasi improvised” (and yet carefully articulated) dreamy phrase - definitely rhapsodic and instantly setting the scene for a piece that’s a little unusual, guitar-wise.
Strummed chords in a fiery, rhythmic pattern assert the presence of the guitars very effectively. An almost chorale-like accompaniment allows the sax to take on an altogether more lyrical and gentle ballad voice. A “march” section sees the guitars strumming once again in a very effective and stirring rhythm part flamenco, part military band. The six-minute movement concludes with a return to the Bach-like ballad.
The technical standard, guitar-wise, is not too onerous - this is an accessible piece, not just for the players (Grade 6 players could rise to the challenge), but for the audience too.
The composer has done something quite difficult matching the lyricism, sustain and power of the sax to the light, transient sounds of the guitar in a way that showcases each instrument’s strengths and styles. And he’s done it well.
Look out for this piece in concert - you’ll enjoy it !
Derek Hasted (Classical Guitar Magazine)