Is there any chamber music written for alto saxophone and violin? Very little indeed! We at Westminster Music Library like to think we cover just about every combination of instrumental ensembles, but this one left us scratching our heads. When the request came through to host a recital featuring said instruments, I was intrigued…
Take one graduate and one soon-to-be graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, add accomplished backgrounds in classical music, saxophone, violin, composition, performance, a barrell load of enthusiasm and determination, and the result is astonishing. The two musicians perform like it’s the most natural thing in the world to play together on these most disparate of instruments. But just where do they get their music from?
From a family of musicians, Stephanie Legg is working towards a career not only in solo/ensemble performance but also composition. Teaming up with fellow student Julia Hart (who has been playing the violin since the age of 7) the challenge for Stephanie was that as there is virtually no music available for this combination of instruments, she might as well have a go at arranging some herself.
The concert opened with Histoire du Tango, one of the most famous compositions by tango composer Ástor Piazzolla. Originally written for flute and guitar, this high spirited tango is full of grace and liveliness. It’s often played with different combinations and this arrangement of saxophone and violin worked perfectly, with the raunchy saxophone conjuring up the night clubs and bordellos of Argentina.
From the twentieth century back to the eighteenth century, and an arrangement of Haydn’s piano sonata in D major. Originally scored for harpsichord or “fortepiano”, this technically challenging piece was played by our duo as though this was the scoring Haydn had intended all along, despite the saxophone not having been invented until 1846. If only he knew.
Fast forward to the nineteenth century with Stephanie’s arrangement of Granada, a composition by Isaac Albéniz. Originally written for piano it has since being transcribed for guitar. It is one of the most important works of the classical guitar repertoire and proved to be yet another opportunity for our soloists to dazzle us with their interpretation of this most seminal work.
More interpretations of Piazzolla followed, and just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, they ended their recital with an outstanding performance of Hoagy Carmichael’s classic jazz standard Georgia.
Talented, versatile and innovative, Stephanie and Julia have all the makings of a very promising musical future together.