Brian Elias – Arioso

Since 2018, I’ve had the good fortune of doing some administrative and promotional work for one of the UK’s pre-eminent composers, Brian Elias. If you haven’t come across his work before, a good place to start his is Five Songs to Poems by Irinia Ratushinskya, a monumental work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, based on the poems of Soviet dissident Irina Ratushinskya – its genesis and reception is a whole post in of itself, which I’ll save for another time.

A couple of years ago, I had been put in touch with a friend of Brian’s who was looking for performers for a charity function. My friend Wynton and I performed some jazz standards for baritone sax and piano, and Brian, intrigued by the sound of the baritone sax, floated the idea of writing a piece for the instrument. I was pleasantly surprised when last year he informed me that he’d been asked to contribute a new work to the Royal Academy of Music’s RAM200 project, which he decided to write for baritone saxophone. I’m very fortunate to be the dedicatee of the work, with the premiere going to my good friend Rob Burton, a current student at the Academy. 

I think it’s a wonderful piece and I hope it will find a unique place in the saxophone repertoire. Brian has written brilliantly for the saxophone before, in his ‘Pythikos Nomos’ for alto saxophone and piano, and I’m thrilled to be associated with this new work. Enjoy!

Photo by George Newsom

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