Sax Concerto piano reduction at John Mackey's Blog

May 31, 2013

Sax Concerto piano reduction

I wrote my soprano sax concerto back in 2007, and at least once a month since then, a sax player has emailed me to ask when they could expect to see a piano reduction.  For several years, my response was along the lines of, “wow, I wish there were a reduction, but I don’t see how that could ever happen.  You’d need eight hands.”  How can one possibly reduce 45 individual parts down to two hands and maintain any resemblance to the original?

I eventually made a reduction of movement 4, “Wood,” since that reduction was pretty doable.  I’ve been selling that movement as a standalone sax/piano duet called “Sultana.”  I also made a reduction of movement 3, “Metal,” which I think works fine as well, but when it got to movements 1, 2, and 5, I was stumped.  Until, out of nowhere, I got an email from somebody named Liz Ames.

Liz, at the time, was a doctoral collaborative piano student at Arizona State and she specialized in — this is true! — saxophone music.  You read that right.  She’s a pianist who just loves accompanying sax players.  She worked regularly with Tim McAllister, then the sax professor at ASU (now at Northwestern), and Tim introduced Liz to my concerto.  (You can hear Tim’s recording of my concerto here on the site, as it’s the reference recording for the piece.)

Liz emailed me to say that she wanted to work on a reduction for my concerto. She wrote:

The reason why I am so interested in reductions is because there are so many reductions which do not uphold the integrity of the music nor are they accessible to even the best pianists. This, of course, leads to fewer performances of these pieces or no performances at all since it is already so difficult for saxophonists to find a pianist. I love working with saxophonists and I love the music that they play and only wish to expand the repertoire that they have to choose from.

Thanks to Liz, there is now a playable (!), effective (!!!) reduction of my previously un-reducable sax concerto. I’ve heard Liz play it, so I can confirm that although it is insanely virtuosic, it is possible to play. But be warned: the piano part is as difficult as the solo sax part.

The reduction is available from me directly. Visit the ordering page and scroll down to the chamber music category. And start hunting for a great pianist (or just hire Liz Ames – who is now based in Chicago).

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