From the recording Allegro assai (Blues)
Concerto #2 (Quasi improvvisando) for Alto Saxophone and Orchestra
While the Concerto Quasi Improvvisando embodies the essential elements associated with a concerto in its traditional generic form, it is firmly rooted in the contemporary idioms of rock and jazz music. The saxophone, because of its unique affinity for these pop music styles, is the perfect choice as protagonist for the piece. Historically, improvisation has been an important element of musical style in the Baroque and Classical periods, particularly in cadenza passages of concerto movements, but this practice eventually died out. Later composers, possibly fearing what might become of their work in the hands of others, allowed no such latitude to the performer, preferring to meticulously complete all such solo passages, leaving nothing to chance. This concerto, while it is fully worked out in all its structural parts such as form, orchestration, and harmonic language, leaves ample room for the skilled virtuoso to display his art in passages specially composed for that purpose.
The Concerto Quasi Improvvisando is cast in the traditional three-movement form. The first movement, Allegro assai, is a medium-fast sonata-allegro form in 12/8 time. The principal theme of the exposition is a jazzy melody stated in the solo sax and woodwind parts floating over a 12-bar blues pattern in the strings. This theme is followed by an episode that leads to the subordinate theme, an ensemble section that is reminiscent of a rock band featuring the violins framed by scale passages in the solo part. A codetta ensues, in which the orchestra and solo sax follow each other in alternating dialogue until reaching a cadence in the dominant key. The development is built on an ostinato bass pattern that is used as a point of departure for an extended saxophone solo. This is followed by a transitional harmonic sequence leading back to the main theme via a solo passage in the saxophone. In the recapitulation, the principal and subordinate themes are stated in the orchestra, this time juxtaposed against an improvised sax solo. The coda features two extended cadenzas allowing the soloist to demonstrate his virtuosity and control of the instrument.
The Concerto Quasi Improvvisando was first performed in concert on Nov.6, 2004 by saxophonist Gary Herbig with the composer conducting the San Fernando Valley Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Herbig has also performed the concerto in an arrangement for concert band with Steve Piazza conducting the Los Angeles Symphonic Winds.
Mr. Herbig has given these comments regarding the piece: “Although I'm a musical prodigy and a professional member of The American Federation of Musicians since I was 14, and have enjoyed a long and if I may say illustrious career in the music business, no one ever wrote a Concerto for me, booked me on a symphony orchestra concert or requested my biography until the composer James Domine came into my life! The Concerto Quasi Improvvisando that Maestro Domine wrote for me is a perfect fit for my style of solo saxophone playing. Since it's premiere I have performed it for enthusiastic audiences of over 50,000 people at Warner Park in Woodland Hills, California, also the California State Music Educators Conference in Fresno, and in my hometown with the Missoula, Montana City Band. It's a wonderful piece of music in three movements, and I feel a great personal connection to the Concerto and Maestro and Composer James Domine.”
Gary Herbig has been recognized as BILLBOARD MAGAZINE TOP-TEN JAZZ ARTIST. For more information about Herbig, visit his web site at www.garyherbig.com.
This archival recording features Gary Herbig, alto saxophonist with James Domine conducting the San Fernando Valley Symphony orchestra.