About this work:
Writing for saxophone quartet is a little like investing in wild cat oil drilling. The rewards are great if the well produces, but the losses may be even greater if it does not. Although its capacity for musical expressivity can never equal that of the string quartet, the potential of the saxophone quartet will never be realized unless composers write music of substance for it that will be both technically and musically demanding. Three Fantasies represents the purchase of several shares in such a venture.
The music of Three Fantasies is old-fashioned; old-fashioned, that is, in the way that Purcell's Fantasies for viols were old-fashioned when they were written during the seventeenth century in a world dominated by Italian trio sonatas and concerti grossi. The first and third are distinguished by their exceedingly linear textures; the last indeed is a double canon, a fact which I hope the music has been able to obscure. (I tend to believe that the presence of such clever techniques should be hidden to all except maybe the performers, who have a right to a little knowledge all their own.) The second Fantasy is a brilliant exercise based on an incipit strongly resembling the "rocket" themes of the Classical Period. This motive is the basis for two contrasting themes, one fluid, with running lines, the other strongly rhythmic, with many sharp attacks. All three Fantasies are ternary in form in that, while no new themes are introduced, the treatment of the old themes undergoes considerable, though gradual, change as each piece progresses; yet before the end of each piece there is always a reference to the beginning.
Lest any of my more astute colleagues draw the admission out of me when I am weak and unable adequately to defend myself, I hereby publicly confess to an awareness of the music of Luigi Dallapiccola while composing the third Fantasy. I wrote it, however, not in imitation, which should be reserved only to students (to show them how presumptuous it really is to attempt to write like a master when one clearly isn't), but in admiration of and love for his art.Three Fantasies has been recorded by the New Hudson Saxophone Quartet for Arizona University Recordings (AUR CD 3115).
Version: saxophone quartet
Year composed: 1979
Ensemble type: Chamber or Jazz Ensemble, Without Voice:Saxophone Quartet
Instrumentation: 1 Soprano Saxophone, 1 Alto Saxophone, 1 Tenor Saxophone, 1 Baritone Saxophone