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Above the Clouds
Sonata for Alto Saxophone

Duration: 18 minutes
Opus: 46
Date: 2005



This sonata was commissioned by Lara James and sets out to explore both the expressive and technical features of the instrument. The musical material of the three movements is constructed from arrays of notes which are generated from an initial twelve-note series and then divided into cells. These cells are then used to create motivic material which is used within, essentially, a tonal framework.

The first movement, Moderato, is toccata-like and is full of nervous energy. The motives repeat and evolve in a continuous development as ideas are juxtaposed and combined.

The second movement, Lento flessible, is a languid nocturne with more than a passing nod to the saxophone’s “other life” in the jazz world. The mood of this nocturne is one of relaxed contemplation where all is right with the world. A suitable image might be of someone standing on the banks of the Seine at twilight, leaning against a bridge and watching the world go by

The last movement, Allegro vivo, is a boisterous rondo with five alternating ritornelli and episodes which bring the work to a close.


Alto Saxophone; Piano

Commissioned by

Lara James

First performance

Lara James (saxophone)
Weston Gallery, Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama, Cardiff - 26th April, 2005

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