Cries of the Stentor is dedicated to the memory of Anthony Raisbeck.
From the composer: The original version of this work was written for soprano sax and piano and premiered by saxophonist Gerard McChrystal and pianist Kathryn Page at the Purcell Room in 1995. I chose the soprano as I am a soprano player myself and wanted to exploit its vivid upper register, vocal-like sonorities and its intrinsic virtuosity, although primarily as a vehicle for its expressive qualities rather than mere technical display. “Stentor” (a loud-voiced herald in ancient times of war) appropriately depicts the great emotional turmoil I was experiencing at the time of writing this piece. Although the original version was written for the soprano, it can also be played on tenor, and this orchestration was kindly done for me by Edward Watson.
The E-Edition PDF bundle comes with the following:
Solo Bb Saxophone
Percussion 1 (Suspended cymbal, rain stick, mark tree, anvil, glockenspiel, tambourine)
Percussion 2 (Vibraphone, suspended cymbal, bass drum)
“Cries of the Stentor” is also available in hard-copy from June Emerson Wind Music.
“Cinematic sweep” I enjoyed listening to this piece immensely; if I was producing a big-budget Hollywood blockbuster (a pure fantasy, to be sure), I would ask Nigel to bring along his soprano sax and string section; this piece has an indisputable sense of spaciousness, drama and cinematic sweep. The delicate harp intro, each figure slightly different than the other, sets the tone, after which the natural agility of the soprano sax is played off against the richly atmospheric string writing. The harmonic vocabulary is fresh and adventurous. As evidenced in his other works, Nigel Wood shows himself to be a master of melodic shape; the piano figures at Letter F are alone worth the price of admission, and figures in other places suggest an almost architectonic grasp. The overall programmatic balance is excellent; I particularly like the quiet section at Letter G, the calm before the storm at Letter H. There is very little to criticize here; my only suggestion is that a bit more irregularity could have been injected at the soprano’s solo cadenza section; the resemblance between the strict repetition of some of the figures and a technical exercise is a little too close for my taste. But overall, this is an emotionally charged and compelling work.
Roger Freundlich – Sibeliusmusic.com, 20th Jun 2001