Details of the SONATA Op. 6

Southern Music Company, San Antonio (US). 6 pages. Duration: ca. 12:30. Neoclassical modal music.

Level: INTERMEDIATE. Range (written): Bb2 – F5

Technical Elements: Some very fast excerpts. Tonguing accuracy. Diversity of articulations. Long phrases. Breathe control. Intonation of the medium and treble registers.

Performance Skills: Play with expressivity in the slow and melodic sections. Play with ease and agility in the fast movements.

Garland Anderson

GARLAND ANDERSON (1933 – 2001) was an American composer and pianist who lived in Indiana most of his life. He studied with Hans Gal and Roy Harris and is remembered mainly for his jazz and ragtime compositions, particularly his work Streetsyncs: Eleven Ragtime Pieces for Piano. His opera Soyazhe, which premiered in Denver in 1979, and his Piano Concerto No. 2 for the pianist John Kozar are also known. He wrote two sonatas for alto and piano, one for tenor and another for baritone.

I found very little information about the composer and only a few audios and videos of some of his works on the internet. I discovered his SONATA Op. 6 FOR BARITONE SAXOPHONE AND PIANO on the album “Upper Cut” recorded by Alex de Leeuw (baritone saxophone) and Guido Nielsen (piano) [ref. Erasmus Music Media WVH 227]. If you like this style of music so typically American with romantic melodies and playful motives, do not miss working on this piece.

Personal comment on the SONATA Op. 6

In my opinion, the SONATA Op. 6 FOR BARITONE SAXOPHONE AND PIANO is a good example of an original repertoire for this so little known chamber music formation. We saxophonists usually play transcriptions (from other instruments like cello, especially, or bassoon) without taking into account that there are many original works that are also interesting (in case of lack of quality, I’m sure it would not be hard to find composers who could write very good pieces for to this group).

Due to its intermediate level, the SONATA Op. 6 can take part of the repertoire for the access to a Bachelor degree by a saxophonist who has some experience with the baritone or even it could be a good initiation to the baritone for a student of a Bachelor degree in music. In addition to its pedagogical aspects, this is also a good concert piece.

This SONATA has not too many difficult excerpts in the high and low registers, neither stacctato parts. However, the saxophone player does need to have good control of breathing to play the long phrases of the second movement, for instance, and have a solid air column for the fast passages of the first movement and some slured changes of register and staccatto in the third one.

The chamber music work of the SONATA Op. 6 is not very difficult, since the structure of the work is quite clear, rhythms are simple and harmony is “consonant”.

  1. ALLEGRO CON SPIRITO (length = 162 bars; ca. 4:30): This movement is written in the form of a classical sonata. The first theme has different articulations and rhythms that give it a kind of energico character with a piano accompaniment like an ostinato. The second theme is more melodic (almost ironic), and the piano part has lighter chords and silences giving relax to the movement. After the development section, the themes are presented as the exposition and the movement ends with a coda in pp.
  2. ANDANTE SOSTENUTO (length = 85 bars; ca. 4:30): This is a very lyrical movement in the form A-B-A-C-A with slight tempo changes in the intermediate parts. Melodically and harmonically, it reminds us of the music of George Gershwin.
  3. ADAGIO – ALLEGRO (length = 137 bars; ca. 3:30): The introduction in Adagio (15 bars) is evocative and inspiring. The Allegro, in 6/8, is playful and has some delicate technical elements as the precision of tonguing in the low register and some slurred wide intervals between the medium and low registers that require to be played with a solid air column. There is a short Adagio before the final coda that ends the piece in a brilliant way.

I hope you are encouraged to play the SONATA Op. 6 by Garland Anderson. As you will see, it is not very difficult technically, it is very nice to work with the piano and it works very well in concert.

If you want to know more about the ANDERSON’S SONATA, don’t hesitate to contact me.