Alain Margoni

I haven’t found lot of information about ALAIN MARGONI (born in 1934), even on the internet, but it is known that he is a French composer, conductor, teacher, pianist, musicologist, lecturer and essayist. A versatile musician (or multicolored, as he likes to define himself) who believes that the practice of various disciplines is a sign of vitality, courage and open-mindedness.

Composer above all, he was a student of Tony Aubin and Olivier Messiaen. He won the prestigious Prix de Rome for the cantata “Dans les Jardins d’Armide” in 1959, so he used to live in the capital city of Italy between 1960-1963. His production includes more than 80 works of diverse genres. On the other hand, he conducted the Comédie-Française Orchestra (1966-1973-1974) and was professor of Music Analysis at the National Conservatory of Music in Paris since 1973.

The SONATE for baritone saxophone and piano was premiered at the 5th Saxophone World Congress held in London (UK) in 1976 by Jean Ledieu (to whom the work is dedicated… by the way, what does his name sound like?) and Alain Margoni himself at the piano.

Details of the SONATE for Baritone Saxophone and Piano

Gérard Billaudot Editeur, Paris (F). 5 pages. Duration: ca. 8:30. Neoclassic

Level: VERY DIFFICULT. Range (written): A2 – A6

Technical Elements: Very fast excerpts. Accuracy and velocity of tonguing. Diversity of articulations. Extreme altissimo register. Multiphonics. Flatterzunge. Quality of sound and intonation in all registers. Breath control (long phrases).

Performance Skills: Play with ease and lot of energy on the fast section. Very demonstrative cadenza. Play with expressivity in the slow section. Coordination with the piano.

Personal comment on SONATE

As I have already commented previously (read the posts about Garland Anderson and Jeanine Rueff) regarding the original repertoire for baritone saxophone and piano, Alain Margoni’s SONATE is a very good example of a work that should be known and performed more frequently. In terms of pedagogy, I have nothing against playing transcriptions of works written for other instruments such as the cello, the bassoon, the bass clarinet, etc., but I will not tire of repeating, once again, that we need to spread the best original works of our repertoire. If we saxophonists do not, who will do it for us?

Because of its (very) high level of difficulty, the SONATE would be suitable for a Bachelor or a master’s degree student who wants to play a featured work of the repertoire for baritone saxophone and piano. It is very demanding for the instrument, as well as for the chamber music work, but a good concert piece.

Alain Margoni’s sonata is written in a single movement which three different sections are played without interruption: an Allegro with a strong rhythmic character, a virtuoso cadence for the baritone player and a calm and colourful final section.

  1. RITMICO: The baritone saxophone starts the SONATE with a solid and rhythmic theme that combines sixteenth and eighth notes in different rhythmic groups (pay attention, do not confuse the groups of 3 eighth notes with triplets or those of 5 sixteenths with quintuplets: the pulse is always eighth note equal to eighth note and should always be straight). A few bars later, the piano starts with this same main theme and then it begins a development through dialogue between both instruments. There are several unison excerpts in sixteenths at a very high tempo (in my opinion, you could play this section slightly slower without losing the character of the music).
  2. CADENZA: The main theme appears with many rhythmic variations and varied groups of sixteenth notes and eighth notes. There are some tempo changes, fast excerpts detached (double could also be used in some of them), etc. Apart from these almost virtuoso technical skills, the performer should also show a musical intuition and a good scenic presence.
  3. FINAL: This is the most flexible and colourful section of the SONATE, contrasting with the rhythm and solidity of the first section. Anyway, a good work on the conjunction between the baritone saxophone and the piano is required. The tempo is quite slow and calm, although there are brief and quick motives in accellerando and ritardando and some sort of irregular groups of notes that create a sense of motion. In this section, we will find some multiphonic (well achieved, by the way) and some delicate excerpts in the altissimo register (extreme, just at the very end) that require a good control by the saxophonist.

I encourage you to work on it and don’t hesitate to contact me if you want to know more about the Alain Margoni’s SONATE.