Sonata for alto saxophone and piano

If you conjure the combination of saxophone and piano in your mind, you probably will imagine either something rhythmically-charged coming out of the jazz tradition or a frivolous piece of French chamber music. William Albright’s powerful and heart-wrenching Sonata is neither of the above. The second movement, a lament for fellow composer George Cacioppo who died in 1984 when the sonata was composed, is otherworldly music that uses the duo medium as a metaphor for incomprehensible loss: a tragic Italianate dirge performed longingly on the alto sax with piano accompanying in kind dissolves into static, unresolved dissonant piano chords which seemingly continue on forever after the saxophone has ceased playing. It is an extremely meaningful challenge to folks who think music has no meaning.

—FJO

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