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Simpson: The Golden Prophecy for Alto Saxophone and Piano
Publisher: Jeanne Inc.
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The Golden Prophecy tells the story of a soldier who
enlists after a mystical experience: a prophecy of wealth
and happiness after great struggle. The story, set in a
theater of war, is told in three episodes. In the
first, the soldier inflicts violence on an enemy; in the
second, he is pursued by a host of enemies bent on
revenge. Finally, gravely wounded in pursuit, he has a
second vision which reveals the prophecy to be peaceful
rather than militant. Contrition redeems the soldier in
the final moments of the story.
In keeping with the story’s angular drama, The Golden
Prophecy explores the extremes of technical versatility
for the saxophone, demanding of it intensely expressive
vocal sounds and comfort in the highest altissimo
register. In three large parts played without pause,
the piece formally 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 (“Still Life,” TROY 1276:
Noah Getz, saxophone, Andrew Earle Simpson, piano). A
version for alto saxophone and wind ensemble is in
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 “golden
prophecy” is revealed. A short, fast coda provides a
last energetic burst, violently piercing the serenity of
the previous scene.
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Audio sample from Simpson: The Golden Prophecy
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