Notturno

Timothy McAllister, alto and soprano saxophone
Liz Ames, piano

Chant (1991/rev. 2002) by Augusta Read Thomas (b. 1964), arr. F. Hemke
Sonata (1984) by William Albright (1944-1998)
I. Two-Part Invention
II. La follia nuova: a lament for George Cacioppo
III. Scherzo “Will o’ the wisp”
IV. Recitative and Dance
L’incandescence de la bruine (1997) by Bruno Mantovani (b. 1974)
Sonata (1970) by Edison Denisov (1929-1996)
I. Allegro
II. Lento
III. Allegro moderato
Notturno (1981) by Steven Stucky (1949-2016)
Walking on the Ceiling (2015) by David Biedenbender (b. 1984)
I. heavy
II. floating, breathing
III. stumble: run

Grammy Award-winning saxophonist and PRISM Quartet member Timothy McAllister, whose discography features groundbreaking collaborations with many of the world’s leading musicians and orchestras, releases his first solo album on XAS Records with acclaimed pianist Liz Ames. Marking 25 years since his debut solo recording, this compendium draws together cherished masterpieces in the repertoire alongside new discoveries to usher in the instrument’s future. Dazzling performances of works by William Albright, David Biedenbender, Edison Denisov, Bruno Mantovani, Steven Stucky, and Augusta Read Thomas pay tribute to a rich compositional landscape spanning nearly half a century.

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Record Label / Catalogue Number:
XAS 109

Release Date:
July 24, 2020

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Liner Notes

Notturno is an album that spans several years of sonic experimentation, retooling, and rethinking. It pays homage to composers William Albright, David Biedenbender, Edison Denisov, Bruno Mantovani, Steven Stucky, and Augusta Read Thomas, and the enormous stylistic and aesthetic range embodied in their saxophone music. Equally important, the album honors the performers for whom several of the works were written.

I have often spoken about a deep, conscious effort to weave a wide array of influences into my playing, whether a uniquely American classical sound, concepts from broader wind pedagogy, popular idioms, or traits of the modern French School. This omnivorous approach to color I found myself adopting over the past decade has culminated in this album, with influences from Frederick Hemke’s luminous singing in Augusta Read Thomas’ Chant to the delicate melancholy of Donald Sinta’s sotto voce in Albright’s virtuosic masterpiece; from Mantovani’s spectral explorations championed by French saxophonists Claude Delangle and Vincent David, to the ghostly lontano inspired by the haunting and underperformed Notturno by the late Steven Stucky. I have cherished the artistic journey these pieces inspired. They widened my perspective on timbre and helped me to find my own true voice.

There is perhaps no better example of the confluence of these ideas than David Biedenbender’s 2015 Walking on the Ceiling, a work I am convinced will become a staple of the saxophone repertoire. Composed for a former pupil of mine, its movements were written as love letters to David’s toddlers, and effectively tie the album together.

It should be noted that the arrangement by Frederick Hemke of Thomas’ Chant appears here in its world premiere recording. The album also features my second commercial recording of Albright’s Sonata, a work that I revisit and reinterpret with each passing year, only to discover new layers of meaning and emotional depth. The piece continues to call to me, and I may very well record it again.

Notturno marks the 25th anniversary of my debut album in 1995. Now, dozens of solo, orchestral, and chamber recordings later, I am happy to share what is arguably my most meaningful endeavor.

—Timothy McAllister
Ann Arbor, May 2020