From the composer: “Where Spirits & Demons Dance” was originally written for Saxophonia, a saxophone choir which evolved out of the National Youth Wind Orchestra, and was premiered at their debut concert in April 1995, at the Purcell Room. It was a luxury to have such a large group of accomplished saxophonists at my disposal so I made few compromises over scoring or technical demands, which are relatively evenly spread throughout the ensemble.
The inspiration came from the haunting and sinister sounds of an old barrel-organ I heard in the Bohemian heart of Amsterdam. The picture I’ve portrayed of Amsterdam’s street life is one of conflict between it’s superficial charm and the sleazier undertones of the environment.
The E-Edition PDF bundle comes with the following parts:
Soprano Saxophone 1
Soprano Saxophone 2
Alto Saxophone 1
Alto Saxophone 2
Tenor Saxophone 1
Tenor Saxophone 2
Baritone Saxophone 1
Baritone Saxophone 2 (alternative to Bass Saxophone)
Alternative & optional parts
Alto Saxophone 3 (optional)
Bass Saxophone (alternative to Baritone Saxophone 2)
Percussion 1: suspended cymbal, tambourine, woodblock (optional)
Percussion 2: celesta (or glockenspiel), bass drum, castanets (optional)
“Where Spirits & Demons Dance” is also available in hard-copy from June Emerson Wind Music.
Mesmerizing: I am not a saxophonist, have never used a saxophone in a score, and am only familiar with it as a “classical” instrument in the works that we all know – “Lt. Kije”, “l’Arlesienne”, “la Creation du Monde”, etc., etc. With that little disclaimer out of the way, I must go on to say that I have been repeatedly and compulsively drawn to “Where Spirits and Demons Dance” over the past few days. Even in the recently maligned MIDI playback it is a beautiful work, tightly scaled, hypnotically haunting, and infinitely appropriate to its inspiration. Any stray saxophone choirs out there would be well advised to pick this work up, and SOON.
Rod Moulds, SibeliusMusic reviewer
Impressive work for Saxophones: From his haunting thematic idea, Nigel Wood develops an exiting musical journey, taking us through the mystique of ancient Amsterdam. This is an extremely consistent composition, sticking to a basic idea in the tradition of great classic composers like Beethoven and his successors. This is also a great emotional listening experience, at some times breathtaking. Nigel Wood achieves this with his compositional skills, bringing the thematic material through diferent tonalities or pitch-classes, if you prefer a description from 20th Century theory. The ‘modulation’ at letter M is quite stunning, creating another shade of mood before taking us to the conclusion. The use of almost the whole saxophone family in the choir is done with first hand knowledge about the instruments’ potential and limitations. Nigel Wood is in this piece indeed showing us what a huge ensemble of saxophones can do. To hear this piece “live” would be a thrill. Highly recommended both for listeners and of course, for all saxophone players.
Harald Gundhus, SibeliusMusic reviewer
Challenging yet accessible: Along with Nigel Wood’s arrangement of Bach’s Tocatta and Fugue, the saxes at Trinity College, London have loved playing his music. Spirits and Demons is challenging yet accessible. The work is well constructed and I love the romantic middle section which brings both tenors and sopranos near to the top of their range. The extra percussion add welcome colour to the work although it can be performed without. I find this a very moving work and its brevity does prove the maxim that less is more.
Gerard McChrystal, SibeliusMusic reviewer