Stephen Syverud

Shades in the Myst of the Evening Sun

(alto saxophone and string quartet)

Audio sample (.mp3)

Score sample (.pdf - Click here to acquire Adobe Acrobat Reader)

Program Notes:

Other versions of the composition exist: a string orchestra replaces the string quartet and a clarinet is the solo instrument with either string quartet or string orchestra. The versions with string orchestra are entitled Shadows in the Mist of the Evening Sun. The first movement opens with a trichordal statement of the row in the strings and a linear presentation of the order as the beginning of a lyric line in the alto saxophone. A more spirited featured line follows accompanied by the strings with a repeated-note motive which prepares the way for the four-note ostinato appearing in the next section of the piece. The second movement is characterized by quick dance-like pizzicato gestures in the strings with extended notes in the alto saxophone. The steady pulse of the opening string gestures return and is contrasted with homophonic syncopated verticalizations in all parts. In the string orchestra version, the sounds of the alto saxophone are challenged by solo string passages. Additional rhythmic subdivisions challenge the steady pulse and the movement ends with a flourish in the alto saxophone. The third movement begins softly with a clear statement of the row in tetrachordal rotation. As frequently the case through all three movements, all instruments are again simply a part of the ensemble. Motives and gestures from the previous movements are reexamined and placed in new juxtapositions to one another. The composite rhythms become much more predictable and timbral/dynamic differences are exploited until the final closing sounds are heard. To view this composition as a "solo instrument" verses an "accomplimental ensemble" is a mistake. This view is historical and traditional. Much music has been written from this viewpoint. Granted, the timbre of the solo instrument and the strings is vastly different. However, this particular piece was conceived "as all sounds contributing to the entire composition", and, occasionally among instruments which produce very different timbres, solo passages were written to be heard and even emphasized by particular performers.

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