MYSTERIES OF THE MACABRE is a collection of four never-before-recorded works for saxophone and piano. Its through line is a sense of theatricality, drama, and extremity—bordering on the ridiculous.
Acclaimed concert pianist and composer Asiya Korepanova disguises what is—for all intents and purposes--a piano and saxophone concerto within the form of a saxophone sonata. Poème for Saxophone and Piano is a 15-minute work that exhibits a traditional sonata form, but with an expansive new view on the setting, including the not- so-often seen request for the saxophonist to improvise a cadenza.
Messiaen’s Thème et Variations is a much beloved standard in the twentieth century violin repertory, but this is the first time it will be performed on the saxophone. Each successive variation becomes more emotive and virtuosic, until the climax of the work, wherein the return of the theme occurs a full octave above its original iteration—demanding an extended range well into the final octave of the piano.
Ligeti’s infamous Mysteries of the Macabre is a collection of three arias from his only opera: La Grande Macabre. Composed during a modernist trend of the “anti-opera,” the work is an apocalyptic, absurdist, postmodernist commentary with stylistic references as varied as Mozart, Scott Joplin, and Monteverdi. The protagonist of the arias is Gepopo (not unlike Gestapo, perhaps?), chief of police and underling of the self-proclaimed dictator Necrotzar, who has announced his intentions to bring about the end of the world. However, marred in any manner of bureaucratic bloat, is ultimately unsuccessful in making good on his threats. The arias depict Gepopo’s difficult position of being the bearer of bad news: a comet will soon hit the earth, stealing not only their lives, but the dictator’s thunder.
Jay Schwartz Music for Saxophone and Piano is a glorious sprawling landscape of piano resonance and saxophone glissandi. Over its 19-minute duration, the piece visits three distinct locations: the first, an airy, patient introduction, its second, makes palpable reference to American minimalism in a throbbing, ominous music; but in its third, light emerges gently with a hypnotic clarity, promising never to end. The piece concludes with an abrupt--though undramatic--lift in the continuous rhythm which has been spinning long enough to be taken for granted, like waking from a dream.
Released March 19, 2022
Recorded at Skillman Music by Wei-xiong Wang.
Mixed & Mastered by Tommy Harron
Produced by Thomas Giles & Liana Pailodze Harron
Photography & Cover Design by Jennifer Clay
Thomas Giles, saxophone
Liana Pailodze Harron, piano