Suite for Saxophone Quartet (1979), Paul Creston

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Suite for Saxophone Quartet (1979), Paul Creston
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Amherst Saxophone Quartet: Creston, Mols, Parisi, Wilder
Amherst Saxophone Quartet: Creston, Mols, Parisi, Wilder
Salvatore Andolina, soprano
Michael Nascimben, alto
Stephen Rosenthal, tenor
Harry Fackelman, baritone


ALEC WILDER was born in Rochester, New York on February 16, 1907. He studied composition with Herbert Inch and Edward Royce. Wilder was best known for his work in New York City as a composer of music for the theater, radio, and films. He wrote popular songs and arranged music for Frank Sinatra, Judy Garland, Benny Goodman, Jimmy Dorsey, and others. He was also a prolific composer of "concert music," especially for wind instruments. Most of his serious compositions, in particular his chamber music, are in an affable, hedonistic, and ingratiating style, according to Baker. The SAXOPHONE QUARTET fits this characterization perfectly.

"The Wilder QUARTET was purchased in late 1980 as part of the continuous process of upgrading our library. Our first official performance of this work occurred on November 4, 1981. The period between the purchase and the' performance began with an argument within the quartet which took more than a year to resolve. Our initial reading of the work brought out numerous harmonic and melodic peculiarities which were the subject of much heated discussion. I felt some of this manuscript was not what the composer had originally intended. After much discussion and further rehearsing it was decided to try to get a score. Through the courtesy of Bruce Creditor, the general manager of Margun Music, Inc., we received a photocopy of the original pencil score. In spite of the difficulty in reading the copy, a great many questions were answered, mostly in the realm of transpositional discrepancies from score to parts. In a few instances I felt it was necessary to actually change some pitches because they were either indecipherable or did not make harmonic sense. The end result of all this editing was over ISO changes in the four saxophone parts. These changes were made in the hopes of recovering and maintaining the spirit, intent, and integrity of the original work. The QUARTET certainly has become one of our favorite works and will always hold a respected position in our repertoire." —Dr. Michael D. Nascimben

ROBERT MOLS, a native of Buffalo, New York, attended the Eastman School of Music where he obtained his Ph.D. degree and performance certificate on flute. At Eastman, he studied composition with Howard Hanson and Wayne Barlow. He also did advanced study at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. In 1953 he joined the faculty at the University of Buffalo as head of the theoretical and instrumental divisions.

As a composer and recipient of grants and commissions, his compositions have received numerous performances in this country and abroad, including performances by the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra. Several works for flute, including "Excursion" for flute choir, were recently published by the Franzipani Press.

"Having written many dance band arrangements as a saxophonist-clarinetist during my early professional career, I was truly excited when asked by the Amherst Saxophone Quartet to write a concert piece for them. Knowing each of the players personally, their exceptional skills and musicianship, and their great ensemble, I knew what sort of piece I wanted to compose — lyric, expressive, partially jazzy, innovative, and with some special effects and blends. All of these elements were to be linked or 'chained' together to form one continuous through-composed movement in three basic sections — hence, ENCHAINMENT." —Robert Mols

STEPHEN PARISI was born on November 11, 1955 in Buffalo, New York to music-loving parents who started him on piano at the age of seven. At age fifteen, he became a student of Ann Moot, who was very inspirational both musically and creatively. His ambition to become a composer led him to the State University of New York at Buffalo on full scholarship. He studied composition with Leo Smit and has obtained a Masters of Fine Arts in Music degree. Mr. Parisi currently divides his time between teaching, performing and composing. He lives in Grand Island, New York with his wife and daughter.

The INTRODUCTION opens choral-like in nature and is transformed into a dialogue between soprano and alto saxophones leading to a sonorous climax. The movement returns to the long lyrical phrases and choral texture of the opening measures.

The CAPRICCIO is a juxtaposition of themes or episodes of various kinds which follow one another. This wide variety of textures give the piece the aspect of caprice from which its name is derived.

"I feel my purpose or goal as a composer is to arouse and use the listeners' stream of consciousness from the first note to the last, while at the same time exemplifying some type of musical structure." —Stephen Parisi

PAUL CRESTON was born on October 10, 1906, in New York City, of Italian parentage. Completely self-taught in composition and orchestration, he has contributed a full range of music with over 120 major works: piano pieces, songs, chamber music for various instrumental combinations, choral works, cantatas, an oratorio, ten symphonic band works, and over 35 orchestral works which include six symphonies and 15 concertos.

His numerous awards and honors include: Music Critics' Circle Award and First Prize in the Paris International Referendum of 1952 for his Symphony No.1; National Institute of Arts and Letters award; two Citations of Honor from the National Association for American Composers and Conductors; and two Guggenheim Fellowships. In 1960 he received a State Department grant as American Specialist in Israel and Turkey.

The SUITE was composed in 1979 and premiered the same year by the Swiss Saxophone Quartet at the Saxophone Congress held in Chicago. The work is his fifth and latest for Saxophone. The other four are: SUITE, Op.6 - Saxophone and Piano, SONATA, Op. 19 - Saxophone and Piano, CONCERTO, Op. 26 - Saxophone and Orchestra or Symphony Band, and RHAPSODIE, Op. 108 - Saxophone and Organ or Piano.

The SUITE FOR SAXOPHONE QUARTET is vintage Creston and confirms his acknowledged love of the instrument. The unusual "alert" rhythms, sensuous lyricism, rich harmonies, and structural solidity which have been the hallmark of Creston's style, are constantly in evidence. His clear understanding of the instrument's technique was gained from his association with saxophonist Cecil Leeson as pianist for his recitals, and for whom he wrote the first three works for the instrument.

The AMHERST SAXOPHONE QUARTET has performed in the United States from coast to coast, has been broadcast on national radio on numerous occasions, and is regularly heard throughout the world on Voice of America. The group was formed in 1978 and continues with the original members. It has played more than 50 concerts a year since 1981. The New York Times called the first of the Quartet's Carnegie Hall concerts "first rate in every respect."

The Amherst Quartet performs the standard works composed for saxophone quartet. In addition to this large repertoire, it has developed a unique library of manuscripts which includes many commissions and also music of the Baroque era, Jazz, Avant Garde, and Ragtime. The group's close association with renowned composer-pianist Eubie Blake resulted in a recording of his delightful rags.

Along with a busy chamber music schedule, the ASQ has appeared as guest soloist with orchestras including both the Rochester and Buffalo Philharmonics.

SALVATORE ANDOLINA, soprano, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and John Sedola and clarinet with James Pyne and Stanley Hasty. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in music from the State University of New York at Buffalo which he attended on an Arts Foundation scholarship. Mr. Ao/iolina was bass clarinet/saxophonist with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra for the 1978-79 season, clarinetist with that orchestra for the 1983-84 season, and has performed with the Artpark Orchestra.

MICHAEL NASCIMBEN, alto, studied saxophone with Larry Teal and Sigurd Rascher. He received both Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Michigan. Dr. Nascimben has served on the faculties of the University of Texas at Austin and the State University of New York at Buffalo. He has performed with the Detroit Symphony, Austin Symphony, Buffalo Philharmonic, and was a founding member of the West Point Saxophone Quartet. Dr. Nascimben is an Artist/Clinician with the Selmer Saxophone Company.

STEPHEN ROSENTHAL, tenor, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and John Sedola, and clarinet with James Pyne. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Music Performance from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Rosenthal has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Empire State Wind Ensemble.

HARRY FACKELMAN, baritone, studied saxophone with Edward Yadzinski and clarinet with Allen Sigel. He received a Master of Fine Arts in Music from the State University of New York at Buffalo. Mr. Fackelman has performed with the Buffalo Philharmonic Orchestra and the Empire State Wind Ensemble.


Executive Producer: Vincent S. Morene
Recorded in Christ the King Chapel at Canisius College, Buffalo, NY
Recording Engineer: Frederick A. Betschen Jr., Assistant Engineer: Mark J. Morette
Mastering: The Groove Shop, Engineer: Bob Grotke
Album Design: Mary Lu Littlefield
Photography: Mary Fote, Joe Saccomanno
Type: Printing Prep


Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Thursday, November 13, 1997
Quartet's second time around is no mistake
Herman Trotter

In celebrating its 20th anniversary this season, the Amherst Saxophone Quartet reprised, in its initial concert, its very first concert. For the second set, it is replaying a 1982 Carnegie Hall concert.

"It was a watershed for us," said spokesman Stephen Rosenthal, "because the fine review which the New York Times gave us was a springboard to a long and healthy career."

After hearing the concert again, it's clear that the Times' positive review was earned.

The strong, fascinating program centered on two works written for the pioneering Marcel Mule Quartet: the 1931 Quartet in B-Flat, Op. 109 by Glazunov and the 1937 Quartet, Op. 31 by Belgian composer Jean Absil.

The Glazunov Quartet is typical of the composer's immaculately tailored construction.

The first movement was an easy reminiscence at the outset, unfolding into a section of increasing intricacy in which the tempo gradually increased to an all-out sprint.
Glazunov's mastery of harmony and instrumentation allowed the quartet to bring out its mellow, rich sounds, which were captivating even in the low-ceilinged confines of the Bijou Grille.

The central movement offers some of the most gorgeous sonorities in the repertory. It's an extended set of variations on a warm, beautifully harmonized chorale-like theme that is gradually increased in tempo to a crisp, clean, scampering Scherzo finale. Along the way, my fancy was particularly taken by the second variation built on trills which ping-pong back and forth among the instruments as the music's ruminations are worked out, and by the fourth, in which a chromatically wandering idea is given a seductive, very close harmonization.

The Finale clips along with punchy accents and an intriguing downward walking theme, accelerating to another exciting conclusion.

Absil's quartet was well placed in the wake of the Glazunov work because it had its own virtues without any sense of competition or imitation. Its three movements offered a jocular tune that echoed among the saxes, a slow Nocturne full of wavering figures under a lazy, descending theme, and a cleverly fragmented staccato Finale.

The concert had opened with Robert Clerisse's 1957 "Introduction and Scherzo," built on oft-changing moods in both of its sections. In its brevity it seems something of a bauble, but its excellent construction and wealth of pithy, short, occasionally sentimental ideas lift it well above the realm of the trivial.

The second half of the concert was all American, opening with Paul Creston's four-movement 1979 Suite, Op. 111. Variety of texture and rhythm was the attraction here. There were briskly paced, eccentric walking figures; odd; ear-catching rhythmic changes; gently flowing lines; and a perpetual motion Finale in which I doubt there was a single rest for anyone.

Buffalo composer Stephen Parisi's 1981 "Introduction and Capriccio," written for the quartet, pitted the opening's dreamy treble ambience 'with some surprising moments of depth against the rapid-fire Capriccio, with several energizing changes of rhythm and meter, and bursts of staccato playing like islands in the musical sea.

The quartet concluded with four trademark rags by Eubie Blake. "Poor Katie Redd" bounced along between a swagger and a strut; "Valse Marion" was slow and homey, generously strewn with exaggerated rubato; "Dictys on Seventh Avenue" was more strictly written, but without losing its ragtime rhythmic kick; and "Charleston Rag" a classic of the genre, barreled along over a wonderful descending baritone line.

Quatuor (1931), Alexander Glazunov
Quatuor pour saxophones, op. 31, Jean Absil
Introduction et Scherzo (1957), Robert Clerisse
Suite for Saxophone Quartet (1979), Paul Creston
Introduction and Capriccio (1981), Stephen Parisi
Quartet's second time around is no mistake
Buffalo News (Buffalo, NY)
Monday, February 8, 1993
Amherst Sax quartet dusts off the big band sound
Herman Trotter

There were two premieres on this program by the Amherst Saxophone Quartet, attractive lighter pieces, but the bulk of the concert was devoted to exploration of repertoire that the ensemble hadn't played for some time.

In the 1930s and 1940s Jean Rivier (1896-1987) was considered a leading light among emerging French composers, but his work is not heard much today. The ASQ opened with his 1938 "Grave et Presto." It proved very attractive, with its sweet, hollow chords and gently probing tonal progressions, followed by the scampering "presto" section which had a sort of stop-start feeling about its pulse and intermixed reminiscences of the "grave" section for contrast. For all this, though, it's a rather tightly written piece and the ASQ's ensemble was immaculate in setting it forth.

Paul Creston (nee Joseph Guttoveggio) wrote his Suite, Op. III in 1979. Though American, this music has an extremely light texture and nimble voice leading, yet seemingly owes little to jazz influence, which makes it sound more Iike the work of the French school. The ASQ was returning to Creston's Suite for the first time since recording it in 1984, and gave it a cohesive, persuasive performance, the quietly ambling pace of the Pastorale movement a special pleasure.

But the major work which made the biggest impact was Pittsburgh composer David Stock's "Sax Appeal," written for the ASQ in 1990. It made a bigger impression on this second hearing, sounding in general like a kind of overstated evocation of progressive big band sounds of the I 940s.

The first movement's sweeping figures and massive block chordal architecture moved along very insistently and punchily but behind the musical bravado was an engrossing harmonic progression.

A growling baritone sax underpinned the Blues movement's slowly shifting patterns, while the slowly moving Sarabande was propelled by a pulsing rhythm and capped by an intriguing pealing figure.

The finale, called Jump, was a pell mell rush, with every man for himself, it seemed. One bold, brazen idea after another went racing by, but it was well enough constructed that it held my interest hypnotically.

Making its debut was "Masako" by ASQ's alto, Russ Carere, a tribute to a Japanese woman now living in Buffalo who had been of immeasurable help in expediting details' of the group's recent guest appearance at Kanazawa, Japan, Buffalo's sister city. It's an up tempo piece in sophisticated jazz style with an abrupt but satisfying ending. There's also a little inside joke at the start, the sound of the soprano sax in a high register two-note chirp, apparently similar to the real Masako saying "Hello" on the telephone.

Also premiered was Bill Evans' "Waltz for Debbie" in an arrangement by Ron Corsaro done several years ago but just now going public. It's gently swinging, smooth jazz lines came right after Stock's "Sax Appeal" and made a wonderful transition to the lighter part of the program.

Two rags by Russ Carere completed the announced program, "Rascal Rag" and "Jilly Bean Walk," with "Vivacity Rag" tossed in as an encore.

Grave et Presto, Jean Rivier
Suite for Saxophone Quartet (1979), Paul Creston
Sax Appeal (1990), David Stock
Waltz for Debby, Bill Evans
Masako, Russ Carere
Amherst Sax quartet dusts off the big band sound

Composer Biography

1906 —

PAUL CRESTON (Giuseppe Guttoveggio) (1906-1985), born Joseph Gutevecchio in New York, was an American composer and organist of Italian heritage. He was largely self-taught. Rhythm is the keystone of his style, his technique depending primarily on constantly shifting subdivisions of a regular meter. The other main features of his music are long, florid, but motivically-generated melody, lush impressionistic harmony and very full orchestration. The texture is generally homophonic, the tonality free and the form classical in its clarity and concision despite the flamboyantly romantic gestures. Creston's Sonata for saxophone and piano is possibly the most often performed work in the enormous repertoire of music for saxophone and piano.

[From Wikipedia]
Paul Creston (born Giuseppe Guttoveggio; October 10, 1906 – August 24, 1985) was an Italian American composer of classical music.
Born in New York City to Sicilian immigrants, Creston was self‐taught as a composer. He was an honorary member of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity, initiated into the national honorary Alpha Alpha chapter. His work tends to be fairly conservative in style, with a strong rhythmic element. His pieces include six symphonies, a number of concertos, including two for violin[1], one for marimba and orchestra[2] (premiered by Ruth Stuber), one for one piano, one for two pianos, one for accordion and one for alto saxophone (the latter dedicated to Cecil Leeson)[3], a fantasia for trombone and orchestra (composed for and premiered by Robert Marsteller), and a Rapsodie again for alto saxophone - written for famous virtuoso Jean-Marie Londeix. He also wrote a suite (1935) and a sonata (op. 19, 1939) for alto saxophone and piano (both dedicated to Cecil Leeson)[3][4], as well as a suite for organ, Op. 70.[5] Several of his works were inspired by the poetry of Walt Whitman. He died in Poway, CA, a suburb of San Diego.
Creston was one of the most performed American composers of the 1940s and 50s. Several of his works have become staples of the wind band repertoire. The Zanoni, Prelude, and Dance, and Celebration Overtures have been and still are on several state lists for contests across the USA.
Creston was also a notable teacher, with the composers Irwin Swack, John Corigliano, Elliott Schwartz and Charles Roland Berry, accordionist/composer William Schimmel and the jazz musicians Rusty Dedrick and Charlie Queener among his pupils. He wrote the theoretical books Principles of Rhythm (1964) and Rational Metric Notation (1979).

Composition Notes

This Suite was written for the Swiss Saxophone Quartet.