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Alastair Penman & Jonathan Pease
Notes on the performers
Hailed as a “pioneering instrumentalist and writer” and praised for his “surpassingly beautiful music” and “undoubtedly brilliant mind”, saxophonist Alastair Penman is a dynamic and versatile performer and composer. Alastair is a City Music Foundation Artist, Park Lane Group Artist, BBC Introducing Artist, Live Music Now Artist, a Yeoman of the Worshipful Company of Musicians, and has won awards from the Countess of Munster Musical Trust, RNCM and St. Catharine’s College, Cambridge. Alastair is a Henri Selmer Paris and Vandoren UK performing Artist. As a soloist, Alastair has been a guest recitalist at European and World Saxophone Congresses and his debut album, Electric Dawn has received airplay on BBC Radio 3. Alastair’s recent EP, Do You Hear Me?, which highlights the climate emergency, has been described by critics as “groundbreaking”, “a superb mix of sounds” and “damn good music”. In an ensemble setting Alastairleads the award-winning Borealis Saxophone Quartet and plays baritone saxophone with the Kaleidoscope Saxophone Quartet. Alastair has performed with orchestras including the Philharmonia, London Contemporary Orchestra and Royal Ballet Sinfonia. As an educator Alastair is Professor of Saxophone at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and is a regular tutor at Benslow Music. He has taught classes for UCLA (USA), Royal Northern College of Music, Trinity Laban Conservatoire and Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama and has taken sectional rehearsals for the National Youth Wind Orchestra.
Jonathan is an accomplished, versatile pianist, who studied with Graham Fitch. He offers particularly developed sight-reading and ensemble skills.
He is part of a successful duo partnership with oboist Nicola Hands, with whom he has has released two CDs: Light and Shade and Phoenix. The latter included the premiere recording of Paul Patterson’s Phoenix Sonata. He also accompanies saxophonist Alistair Penman, regularly booked as guest entertainers on world cruises. The two have released the CD Soar, which has been played on BBC Radio.
Pedro Iturralde (1929-2020)
Pedro Iturralde was a Spanish saxophonist and composer, who gave his first public performance at the age of just eleven and went on to study at the Royal Conservatory in Madrid. After touring the Middle East and Germany he returned to Spain as the leader of a group of German jazz musicians. His experiments with fusions of flamenco and jazz led him to record several albums, including Flamenco–Jazz. He studied briefly at Berklee College of Music in the United States, and taught the saxophone at the Madrid Conservatory until 1994, while enjoying a career as a performer both in jazz and as a soloist with symphony orchestras. When he was 20 years old he composed the flamboyant Pequeña Czarda for alto saxophone. Originally orchestrated by his brother Javier, it is dedicated to his friend, the saxophonist, Theodore Kerkezos.
Richard Rodney Bennett (1936-2012)
Four Country Dances
- A New Dance
- Lady Day
- The Mulberry Garden
- Nobody’s Jig
Sir Richard Rodney Bennett was an English composer well known for his film scores and jazz performances as well as over 200 concert works. This setting of four country dances for soprano saxophone or oboe was written in New York in 2000 and dedicated to saxophonist John Harle and oboist Nicholas Daniel. The dances are arrangements of tunes taken from Playford’s Dancing Master which was a collection of 535 popular tunes for country dancing, published between 1651-1728 and edited by John Playford (1623-1686) amongst others. Richard Rodney Bennett’s arrangements are unmistakably his own, with the piano providing a beautiful accompaniment to these simple English melodies.
Alastair Penman (1988-)
Soar is perhaps the first serious composition that I wrote for saxophone and piano. Originally composed for a competition run by the Clarinet and Saxophone Society, Soar also went on to become my first composition published by Saxtet Publications, with whom I now have over twenty publications.
Soar tells the story of an injured eagle who has been kept in captivity before being released back into the wild. In the opening material we hear the bird lamenting its loss of freedom and voicing its frustration. After this brief introduction, however, we hear the eagle instantly return to its natural state, flying freely and instinctively enjoying dancing in and out of the patterns of the wind whilst it travels on its journey to rejoin its eyrie.
Robert Planel (1908-1994)
Prelude et Saltarelle
Robert Planel was a French composer, teacher and violinist and a winner of the prestigious Prix de Rome. After the Second World War he became Inspector General of the City of Paris and in this time he helped to structure the musical training institutes of the city, including co-founding the conservatoires of the Paris Region.
I believe Prelude et Saltarelle to be one of the most beautiful pieces written for the saxophone and think that it is not as widely recognised as it should be.
Amy Quate (1953-)
Light of Sothis
Amy Quate is an American composer who works in a wide variety of musical styles, forms and media and who has published both musical and literary works. Light of Sothis was commissioned for the Seventh World Saxophone Congress held in Nuremberg, Germany, and is dedicated to Debra Richtmeyer, who premiered the work. Light of Sothis has since become a work popular both with professionals and students, setting two beautiful outer movements against the dramatic middle movement.
Claude Debussy (1862-1918) arr. Jenni Watson
Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum
Claude Debussy is perhaps one of the most celebrated French composers in history and was one of the most influential composers of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum is taken from Children’s Corner, a set of six solo piano pieces that Debussy wrote between 1906 and 1908 and dedicated to his daughter Claude-Emma.
I came across Jenni Watson’s wonderful arrangement of Doctor Gradus ad Parnassum when I heard her performing it at the World Saxophone Congress in Zagreb in 2018. I was blown away by both the arrangement and Jenni’s performance and knew that it was an arrangement I wanted to learn and add to my concert repertoire.
Andy Scott (1966-)
And Everything is Still
Andy Scott is a British saxophonist and composer equally at home in jazz and classical contexts. And Everything is Still is a beautiful melodic piece showcasing the expressive possibilities of the saxophone. In the words of the composer:
Inspired by a poem written by Lemn Sissay (taken from his children’s book The Emperor’s Watchmaker), And Everything Is Still… was commissioned by the Royal Northern College of Music & was premiered by Carla Sousa (flute) & Lucy Colquhoun (piano) on 22nd June 2008 in a concert that marked the retirement of the College Principal Edward Gregson. A simple melody unravels alongside delicate harmonic statements, creating a calm and gentle atmosphere.
Jules Demersseman (1833-1866) arr. Fred Hemke
Variations on Carnival of Venice
Jules Demersseman was a virtuoso flute player and composer, but also a friend of Adolphe Sax, the inventor of the saxophone. It is thanks to this that Demersseman composed some of the earliest pieces for the saxophone, including his popular Fantaisie sur un Thème Originale written in 1860. The Fantasy on Carnival of Venice was written for one of Adolphe Sax’s students, and shows off the full virtuosic capabilities of the instrument.