Katrina Gordon's Concerto for Alto Saxophone and String Orchestra was composed towards the end of 2009, originally with string quartet accompaniment, and is an accessible and lively three movement work full of great energy, spirit, character and good humour.
The composer writes: 'This new concerto is dedicated to Glasgow-based classical saxophonist Carole Sutherland. Packed with humour, peril and tragedy, the work reflects Carole's sparkling, mischievous personality, in a pool of optimism to rival that of Dr Pangloss! Although Carole was unable to take part in the premiere, she was delighted to recommend her former pupil Ross Montgomery as a replacement soloist, describing him as 'a total star.'
The sinister first movement is a tale of crazy optimism versus harsh realism. It would be easy to think that, by the end of this movement, the cheerful, quirky saxophone soloist has lost that battle, but the war continues...
The slow second movement is a beautiful song of regret in which the saxophonist is given the opportunity to wallow deliciously in each and every ounce of his disappointment.
The concerto concludes with a somewhat neo-classical finale, loosely in rondo form, with an occasional jazz flavour. Despite the persistent appearance of a few dark clouds, this last movement is basically a study in happiness, optimism and good humour.
Carole Sutherland's love of playing the saxophone has inspired me to fill her concerto with passion, fun and lots of really good tunes. This concerto is all about pleasure - for musicians and audience alike. Enjoy!'
Concerto for Saxophone and String Orchestra was premiered at the One Touch Theatre, Eden Court, Inverness on 21 August 2010 by Ross Montgomery (Saxophone) and the Highland Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Susan Dingle.
"Ten years on, and going from strength to strength, the Highland Chamber Orchestra celebrated its decennial anniversary with its Eden Court debut and by giving the premiere performances of two new works, contrasting in nature, but both thoroughly enjoyable...Rounding off the first half was the second of the Highland Chamber Orchestra's premieres to celebrate their tenth birthday, a Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings from the Caithness composer, Katrina Gordon.
There is far too little repertoire for the classical saxophone, a point that has been made by the Concerto's dedicatee, Carole Sutherland, and this work makes a very acceptable contribution to help fill the void...Carole had requested that her erstwhile pupil, Ross Montgomery, should be the soloist in the premiere of the Concerto, and this was an excellent choice, for the young man showed a maturity and confidence that displayed the character of the piece, as described by the composer, "packed with humour, peril and tragedy...reflecting the dedicatee's sparkling, mischievous personality."
The Concerto is in three sections. In the first, Ross Montgomery emphasised the sense of conflict in the music, at times optimistic, at times realistic, and leaving a question mark at the end over which emotion is dominant. The slow middle section is full of melody and pathos before the piece is wound up with a cheerful jazzy rondo woven around a catchy motif that the audience were humming over their interval refreshments." (James Munro - On-line Hi Arts)
"The Highland Chamber Orchestra was founded ten years ago as a platform for semi-professional musicians in the region and a stepping-stone for young players emerging from the Highland Region Youth Orchestra but not yet established in professional careers.
It has been a positive addition to music in the Highlands, and has achieved good standards under the direction of its principal conductor, Susan Dingle...Katrina Gordon's vibrant Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings featured an excellent young soloist, Ross Montgomery, who won the loudest ovation of the evening from a full house..." (Kenny Mathieson - The Scotsman)
RM423 Concerto for Alto Saxophone & String Orchestra