Amy Dickson & Kathryn Stott

Crucible Playhouse, Sheffield
Thursday 18 May 2023, 7.15pm

£14 DLA, UC or PIP
£5 Under 35s & Students 

Save £s when you book for 5 concerts or more at the same time 

Past Event

SCOTT Respectfully Yours (4’)
SCHULHOFF Hot Sonata (15’)
RODNEY BENNETT Four Country Dances (13’)
FITKIN Gate (8’)
GLASS (arr. DICKSON) Sonata for violin and piano (22’)
FRANÇAIX Cinq danses exotiques (6’)
MILHAUD Scaramouche (10’) 

Czech jazz, Brazilian influences, and a thrilling and emotional sonata by a minimalist master are explored by the Australian Classical BRIT award-winning saxophonist Amy Dickson in the company of our Festival Curator, Kathryn Stott.  

Amy is celebrated internationally for her “individual and unusual tone: luscious, silky smooth, sultry and voluptuous” (Gramophone Magazine), and this eclectic programme showcases the subtlety, range and beauty of her instrument.  


SCOTT Andy, Respectfully Yours

Andy Scott is a composer and saxophonist who worked on several occasions with composer Richard Rodney Bennett, and Respectfully Yours was written in memory of Bennett, who died in December 2012. For Scott himself, ‘it was appropriate to write a piece that was melodic with jazz-influenced harmony that I think of as a simple “thank you” to Richard Rodney Bennett, for being an inspirational musician and a kind and generous person.’ Originally written for euphonium and piano, Scott subsequently arranged it for saxophone and piano. Over tender, melting piano harmonies, the saxophone weaves a lyrical melody in music that is both reflective and heartfelt. 


© Nigel Simeone

SCHULHOFF Erwin, Hot Sonata

Schulhoff composed his Hot Sonata (subtitled ‘Jazz Sonata’) in 1930, while he was working on his opera Flammen. In a series of pieces from the 1920s, he was one of the first composers to attempt a serious integration of jazz idioms into concert works, and the Hot Sonata is a particularly impressive example. It was commissioned by the German radio station Funkstunde A.G. in Berlin and the commission specified that the music should meet ‘the particular musical requirements of radio’ – in short, that it should appeal to a large audience. The first performance was given in Berlin on 10 April 1930 by the American saxophonist Billy Barton with Schulhoff himself at the piano, and the Hot Sonata was published in August 1930 by Schott in Mainz. 


In an advertisement for the new work, the firm announced that ‘today’s scant number of chamber music works for saxophone is augmented by this valuable composition. The name of Schulhoff guarantees the serious, artistic form of this sonata.’ This was not just publishing hyperbole: by 1930, Schulhoff had written several outstanding chamber works – including two string quartets and two violin sonatas – as well as a ballet (Ogelala), a jazz-inspired piano concerto and a number of piano pieces. The Hot Sonata is in four movements, with only metronome marks to indicate tempo. The first is moderately fast, the saxophone underpinned by a loping piano part which also introduces the deliciously spicy harmonies and syncopated rhythms that characterise the whole work. The short second movement is fast and scherzo-like. The third movement is a kind of blues, the opening saxophone melody marked ‘lamentuoso ma molto grottesco’ and this gives way to an ebullient finale. 


© Nigel Simeone

BENNETT Richard Rodney, Four Country Dances

New Dance 
Lady Day 
The Mulberry Garden 
Nobody’s Jig 

Richard Rodney Bennett’s Four Country Dances for saxophone and piano are part of larger series of pieces inspired by tunes found in John Playford’s The English Dancing Master first published in 1651, with numerous later editions which changed the title to The Dancing Master and added new tunes. Bennett has taken these folk-like melodies and added piano accompaniments of his own to create pieces that have a very individual character. This is particularly apparent in the last dance, where the piano part is at first spiky, then enters into a dialogue with the saxophone with fragments of the melody. The results are fresh, spirited and charming. 


© Nigel Simeone

FITKIN Graham, Gate

In a brief note on this work, Graham Fitkin writes that ‘this piece started from one thing – a trill. The alternation of two adjacent notes gives rise to a simple and constant grouping of beats. Place it in different temporal contexts and the inherent quality of the trill is questioned.’ These are the essential component parts of Gate, but what makes the piece so compelling is the vitality and creative imagination with which these ostensibly simple ideas are expanded and mutated in a piece that moves forward with seemingly unstoppable impetus to a dizzying close. 


© Nigel Simeone

FRANÇAIX Jean, Cinq danses exotiques

Pambiche. Risoluto 
Baiao. Com morbidezza 
Mambo. Allegrissimo 
Samba lenta. Tranquillo 
Merengue. Vivo com spirito 

Jean Françaix’s Cinq danses exotiques were dedicated to the great French saxophonist Marcel Mule. While the music is Françaix’s own, the characteristic rhythms of all five dances draw on traditional music from Latin America. The first, a lively ‘Pambiche’, has its origins in the island nation of Dominica, while the second, a languid ‘Baiao’ is a popular form in north-eastern Brazil. The fast ‘Mambo’ has an obsessive repeating figure in the bass which drives the music along, while the Brazilian ‘Samba lenta’ is perhaps the most expressive of the set, its music in slow, swaying 5/8 time. The Merengue is a dance from the island of Hispaniola (comprising the Dominican Republic and Haiti). Françaix’s version is quick and highly syncopated. 


© Nigel Simeone

MILHAUD Darius, Scaramouche


In May 1937 Milhaud wrote the incidental music for a production of Charles Vildrac’s play Le médecin volant (after Molière’s play of the same name), which opened at the Théâtre Scaramouche. He quickly repurposed pieces from it to create part of a suite – Scaramouche – for two pianos. As for the title, Milhaud almost certainly took it from the Scaramouche theatre and it was a particularly apt choice: in the traditional commedia dell’arte, Scaramouche is the clown, and the mood of the work is decidedly jovial, particularly the riotous Brazilian-inspired finale. 


Milhaud also made an arrangement of Scaramouche for saxophone (an instrument he had already used to great effect in La création du monde) which he dedicated to Marcel Mule, who first played it in public. Both versions were published by Raymond Deiss, famous for only printing pieces he liked. During the French Occupation, when Milhaud was exiled in America, Deiss used his presses to produce Resistance literature, paying for this with his life when he was executed by the Nazis in 1943. 


© Nigel Simeone

“Dickson shows the saxophone is capable of subtlety and great beauty”

BBC Music Magazine

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