War Scenes was originally published in 2015 under the title The Golden Prophecy. It was renamed in 2018 to more accurately reflect the inspiration behind the composition. War Scenes is set in a theater of
World War I and told in three episodes. In the first, 'Rape and Pillage,' the soldier violently abuses a prisoner of war; in the second, 'Chase Through No-Man's Land,' the soldier, having released the prisoner, runs
through an enemy barrage in a desperate chase to attain the safety of his trenches. Finally, gravely wounded by a shell, he has a vision of children playing in blackened, barren landscape without grown-ups, which he
interprets as a symbol of the futility and horror of war ('The Dying Soldier's Vison'). A final spasm brings the soldier's death.
In keeping with the story's angular drama, War Scenes explores the extremes of technical versatility for the saxophone, demanding intensely expressive vocal sounds and comfort in the highest altissimo register.
Structurally, the piece resembles a traditional sonata or concerto. Premiered in 2009 by saxophonist Noah Getz, who commissioned the work, the piece was recorded later that year for Albany Records under the original title
"The Golden Prophecy" ('Still Life,' TROY 1276: Noah Getz, saxophone, Andrew Earle Simpson, piano). A concerto version for alto saxophone and wind ensemble is in preparation.
Following an explosive opening which immediately subsides into restless quiet, the saxophone enters with wailing, voice-like figures. These figures continue as the piano begins to build momentum and energy. Gradually,
saxophone and piano increase pace and develop a powerful rhythmic pattern culminating in a large climax. A quieter transitional passage leads suddenly into the second section, another steadily-driving, rhythmic movement,
which has the feel of a desperate chase. The saxophone wends a virtuosic path over the piano's rapid figurations and bomb-like explosions. The chase builds to a second, larger climax: the saxophone plays, as if in total shock,
in its most extreme high register.
The final section is utterly calm, melancholy, lyrical, and it is here that the true nature of the 'war scenes'is revealed. A short, fast coda provides a last energetic burst, violently piercing the serenity of the previous scene.
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