CDE84546 Pluckblow - Music for Saxophone & Guitar

Pluckblow - Music for Saxophone & Guitar

Pluckblow - Music for Saxophone & Guitar

Product Description

Music for Saxophone and Guitar
Ciaran Farrell - The Shannon Suite **
Stuart Greenbaum - Cloud Eight
Andy Scott* - Nemesis 1, Nemesis 2, Nemesis 3 
Greg Caffrey - Skipping
Tony Davis - Incantation
Billy Cowie* - Romance No. 1,2 & 3
Greg Caffrey - Pluck, Blow
Ian Wilson - Tern, Icarus  
Ulrich Schultheiss - No Rest
* arr. Ogden      ** arr. McChrystal

Gerard McChrystal - Saxophones
Craig Ogden - Guitar

Pluckblow - Music for Saxophone & Guitar

Ref: CDE84546

Craig Ogden and Gerard McChrystal first met while students at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Their careers took them on separate musical paths until a chance meeting at Trinity College of Music, London in 2003 inspired them to form this new duo.

There was little original music for this new combination so Gerard and Craig decided to put together a programme of music by composers they admired and enjoyed listening to. Folk, jazz and contemporary styles influence much of this album which features music from Ireland, Australia, UK and Germany. All of the music has been written for the duo or arranged by them. Their debut recital was at Leicester’s New Walk Museum in October 2003 and included the premiere performance of Incantation by Tony Davis.

In 2004 Gerard paid a trip to the Contemporary Music Centre in Dublin as part of his research into new repertoire for the duo. He heard a new piece by Dublin composer Ciaran Farrell and was immediately struck with its energy and vivaciousness. Such has been the success of his music that RTE Lyricfm chose him to be their featured composer on a CD released in 2007.

The Shannon Suite is a three movement work in which each of the movements represents the lakes Lough Allen, Lough Ree and Lough Derg found along the course of the river Shannon, Ireland’s longest river.

The Shannon, (in Irish Sionainn), inherited its name from an old Irish legend which tells of how the red berries of a Rowan tree once fell into a shimmering well full of salmon. They were said to have eaten the berries which gave them the red spots on their backs, but it also gave them something more. Great wisdom. Men, it is told, went to great lengths to catch these fish of knowledge in the hope that they could eat them and gain their wisdom. Women were not permitted to partake in the catching of the salmon but one bold and brave young woman, Sionan, defied the law to try her hand for one of these witty swimmers herself. She was successful and after eating her catch it is said that a torrential flood exploded from the well and carried her through the Irish countryside where she was eventually spat into the sea, never to be seen again. The remaining river inherited her name and is so called to this day where it flows full and strong, almost dividing the country in two. - Ciaran Farrell

Stuart Greenbaum's music invokes an atmosphere set apart from the routine of modern life. Born in Melbourne (1966), he completed three degrees in composition at The University of Melbourne and currently holds a position there as Lecturer in Composition. Groups to have performed and recorded his music include Cantori New York (NY), The Kuss Quartet (Berlin), Spitalfields Market Opera (London), the Krasnoyarsk Philharmonic (Russia) and in Australia; Topology, The Song Company, Continuum Sax, Australia Pro Arte, Ensemble Aark and all of the major orchestras. His music has won a number of awards, including the Heinz Harant Prize (for best new Australian composition) and the Albert Maggs Award. The commission for the latter (a saxophone sonata) was premiered in May 2003 as part of a 'Greenbaum Retrospective'.

Cloud Eight? There is an aspect of melancholy about the whole idea. Less than one might dream of. Yet it is also an opportunity to think again - to re-evaluate what is worthwhile. In musical terms, this finally leads to a more elated reverie. Not shouting from the roof tops, but perhaps an inner elation while taking a solitary stroll far from the madding crowd.

This version for alto saxophone and guitar was adapted specifically for Gerard McChrystal and Craig Ogden, who gave the premiere performance on 14 October 2005 in the Weston Gallery of the Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff. - Stuart Greenbaum

Andy Scott was a contemporary of Gerard and Craig’s at the RNCM. He is a member of the Apollo Saxophone Quartet and his compositions are starting to make their mark in the music world due to their freshness, unpretentiousness and beauty.

I am honoured that Nemesis has been recorded by my friends and fantastic musicians Gerard and Craig. Their arrangement for soprano saxophone and guitar (from the original soprano sax and vibraphone), coupled with their virtuosic and sensitive musicianship, captures the spirit of the piece perfectly. - Andy Scott

Greg Caffrey was born in Belfast. He studied music at Queen’s University, Belfast, and in 2002 completed a PhD in composition He is Senior Lecturer in Music, Music Technology and Performing Arts at Bangor College in Northern Ireland.

Skipping was originally written for an album by my own band (Greg Caffrey Circle), which was based on the theme of children at play. The music was partly written and partly improvised and draws strongly from the games or activities mentioned in the titles. Therefore, in Skipping, as the guitar plays in relentless semi-quavers it generates a feeling of constant motion (rotating rope), over which the saxophone manoeuvres. - Greg Caffrey

In 2003 Gerard performed at the World Saxophone Congress in Minneapolis, USA and used the trip to find a composer to commission to write for the duo. He heard new music from all over the world but eventually commissioned a composer from Wakefield, England. Tony Davis writes about his new work Incantation:

Playing the wind orchestra piece Incantation and Dance, by John Barnes Chance, had a huge influence on the development of my musical taste in the late 1970s. It was the first time I had heard or played music that was on the edge of losing emotional control. Its passion, vigour and thrilling excitement were a wonderful antidote to Pomp and Circumstance and the rest of the military band repertoire. As a crossover saxophonist myself, I have been exploring the worlds of classical and jazz music for many years and their fusion through my compositions into Chamber-Jazz. When asked to write a piece for the virtuoso soloists Gerard McChrystal and Craig Ogden, I felt that the commission would be the ideal time to relive some of the passion of Chance’s piece. Borrowing no more than the sense of intrigue and dangerous energy and excitement, I set to work on my own Incantation. Throughout the gravitas of the opening section there are hints at the spiralling and cycling motifs to come which evoke the intrigue surrounding the intricate casting of the spell, the incantation. The energy levels continually rise to the end of the first section where the spell is complete and its effect is about to be witnessed - the saxophone becomes intoxicated with the need to push itself in a hedonistic dance. Finally awakening from the trance, the saxophone appears to revert to normality, but is forever changed. - Tony Davis

Coincidentally one of the most influential works that Gerard performed whilst a student at the RNCM was Symphony No. 2 by John Barnes Chance.

Scottish composer Billy Cowie has released twelve CDs of his music on the Divas Records label. These include recordings by Nicola Hall, Gerard McChrystal, Naomi Itami and Marie McLaughlin.

Romances for Saxophone are three short and beautiful pieces in a new version for saxophone and guitar. This combination gives them a sublime intimacy and warmth. These pieces were originally composed for saxophone and piano in 1997. They were recorded for Divas Records in 1999 by Gerard McChrystal and Billy Cowie and received their world premiere during the Brighton Festival in 2001. - Billy Cowie

Another work by Greg Caffrey Pluck, Blow was first performed at Marden House, Calne, Wiltshire in February 2004.

My goal in writing this piece of music was to create a work that was fast-moving and charged with energy. The fast tempo of crotchet = 198 means that the piece represents a reasonable technical challenge for both instrumentalists. It was also important to me that the musical materials used in the composition of this piece were extremely focused. Consequently the important motivic or thematic materials all stem from just three sources within the piece. The piece explores some of the textural possibilities available when the guitar and soprano sax are combined and these varied sound worlds are juxtaposed in an episodic, but continuous formal structure. The rhythmic interplay between the two instrumentalists relies on an attribute more readily associated with rock or jazz players, groove, and therefore, this aspect must go beyond a mere reading of the notes! - Greg Caffrey

Ian Wilson comes from Belfast and is already one of the most original and successful composers in Ireland.

Tern/Icarus is two settings of poems by the Scot John Burnside from his collection The Light Trap (Tern and Icarus, respectively), essentially two short songs without words which nevertheless follow the rhythmic and emotional contours of the texts. - Ian Wilson

German composer Ulrich Schultheiss is already well known to UK saxophonists for his funky work Witchunt. Gerard heard the work on the Sibelius music site and asked him to create sax and piano and sax choir versions both of which were premiered in 1992 at Aberystwyth Musicfest. The piece is now so famous in the saxophone world that at the 2005 British Saxophone Congress in Birmingham, Uli introduced himself as The Witchunt man and everyone knew who he was!

No Rest took a long time to realise. In the beginning I was not sure which would be the most suitable woodwind instrument. A curious oboist tried it out and suggested so many changes to me that the energy and joke of the piece were lost. A Canadian saxophonist friend helped me with a version for soprano saxophone. Then I had the idea to rework the piece for a duo. When I told Gerard McChrystal about it he was spontaneously inspired and asked for a version for saxophone and guitar for his new duo with guitarist Craig Ogden. No Rest has landed in excellent hands and is dedicated to the two brilliant interpreters. - Ulrich Schultheiss

Pluckblow - Music for Saxophone & Guitar