Jacques Ibert: Concertino da Camera

This piece is a concerto in two movements for alto saxophone and chamber orchestra, written around 1935.  The first movement is fast paced, with the saxophone moving swiftly and virtuosically around its full range.  The introduction is quite dramatic – pizzicato off beat rhythms in the lower strings, trills in the woodwind.  It changes tack when the saxophone comes in a few bars later, turning into a jazzy melody in a major key.  This sudden change in direction occurs many times during the course of the movement, creating a sense of restlessness.

The second movement is a complete change of mood, starting with a melancholy, chromatic solo on the saxophone.  When other instruments come in they play a simple crotchet rhythm so the focus in this beginning Larghetto section is really on the unusual harmonies (sometimes dissonant) and wandering melodic line.  The second section in this movement is entitled ‘Animato Molto’, and is reminiscent of the restless mood of the first movement.  Towards the end Ibert employs an unusual technique – audible key pressing/slapping (a slightly percussive effect).

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