In my opinion, the two most demanding challenges of this short piece are both technical and performing: first, because of playing at the limit of the dynamics of the saxophone and second, the continuous contrasts of character.

ENRIC RIU (Barcelona, 1968) combines his job as a music instructor with that of music promoter and, of course, composition, being his works premiered and performed in different countries from Europe and America. Its production covers different musical genres ranging from solo works to orchestral works. In recent years he is developing the concept of “musical co-creation”.

Read more about the composer on his website

Details of the work

Contact the composer (enricriu@yahoo.es) to achieve it. 5 pages. Duration: 4:00 aprox. Contemporary music.

INTERMEDIATE-HIGH level. Range (written): Bb2 – Db5

Technical Elements: Wide palette of dynamics and timbres, with sudden changes. Breath control (long phrases). Control of the low register on very soft dynamics. Bisbigliandi. Irregular groups of notes. Multiphonics. Variety of articulations. Slaps. Frullatti. Eolic sounds. Growl. Bend. Overtones and voice.

Performance: Constant research of timbres and character changes.

Meaning and Structure of SOLITUDINI

I perfectly remember a short conversation with Enric Riu (who I have met some times before) in a European and American composers and performers meeting in Reus at the end of June 2012. Then, he told me that he had plans to write a piece for solo instrument and, after my performance of TIME FIELDS 1 by Hèctor Parra at the closing concert, he felt determined to write that piece for a baritone saxophone.

I was glad to hearing it because I found his work for violin solo -premiered at the same concert- really interesting. Furthermore, I felt much gladder to receive this new score three weeks later. After a very nice and easy work with Enric Riu, I had the opportunity to premiere it at Mixtur Festival, Barcelona, in April 2013.

The composer said about his piece:

“[SOLITUDINI] is the sounding result of a personal reflection upon the relationship between man and nature.

To the extent that we take part of systems, we are vulnerable either favoured. Often, fate depends on our own work: when we sow, we expect the plants. However, we cannot exercise any control on other facts, as sunrise. Man needs balance with the natural system if he does not want to see annihilated himself.

Baritone saxophone seemed to me as a perfect instrument to explain an intimate experience, then. This work has no intention of testing the virtuoso performer abilities or the possibilities of the instrument, but it has been conceived thinking a lot about them. First of all, it is a message addressed to a listener.”

Take into consideration for the performance of SOLITUDINI this work is a personal reflection or meditation in order to underline the importance of the contrasts of dynamics and the (sudden, often) character changes it contains.

This intense work for baritone saxophone solo could be structured into three linked parts with the same discursive line. The piece starts with a slow piece that is developed through different procedures: extending the distance of the intervals, contrasting different motives (often, very brief –even, with only a note) and progressively adding faster excerpts. All these elements lead to a central section with great dynamism and with very marked contrasts. The third part is very slow (almost contemplative) and mainly results in the low register of the instrument. It contains very big contrasts of dynamics and timbres and ends with the same very first phrase but one octave lower.

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How to work on SOLITUDINI

As you have read above, Riu did not pretend to write a technically virtuoso work. If we define “virtuoso” as the performance of many notes in a brief part of time or with very high tempos, that is true: metronomic indications are medium and slow and there are not many fast excerpts in this piece. However, all happens very fast and SOLITUDINI demands a great control on some technical elements of the baritone saxophone (specially the sound but also multiphonics, frullatti, etc.) to make contrasts with (very often, extreme) dynamics and play really soft (specially in the low register).

Next, as the composer also said, he did not want to show the large sound possibilities of the instrument, despite it has a copious amount of elements which have to be played very precisely. So, a separate work on each technical element (dynamics, multiphonics, articulations, etc.) is required.

The first thing we see in the score of SOLITUDINI is a demanding rhythm reading, with frequent measure changes and rare irregular groups of notes (7:5, 5:3, etc.). This rhythmic instability will be also an expression element later, but you should do first a very accurate reading of the score in spite of you could move some phrases when performing it.

I also suggest to work on separately some notes, shorts excerpts and phrases just to value the differences among them when you play the full sections without interruptions. Even if they apparently seem no linked, these contrasts will contribute to give the idea of a kind of improvisation or a reflective piece when you play it in concert.

The polyphonic part of SOLITUDINI (overtones, voice but specially multiphonics –Riu did a great job!, I like them very much) should be worked very precisely so some of them are not very easy and have to be often played in extreme dynamics, both very soft and very loud. I insist: work separately on this elements too.

In my opinion, the most difficult technic element of this work is the control of the sound in the low register in very soft dynamics (from P to PPPP) in all kind of excerpts: articulated and slur, fast and slow. Try to fix your embouchure very well, to adjust your trout and to lead your blow keeping your air column very solid. Work on filed notes!

When you have resolved all these technical elements successfully, think about the quote by Enric Riu about SOLITUDINI you have read before: this work is a kind of meditation, a personal reflection. So, you should play it in a personal way: interiorize it yourself. This piece works very well in concert but specially if you reach to customize it.

Good luck and enjoy it!

If you want to know more details about SOLITUDINI, don’t hesitate to contact me