O Key of David
Advent antiphon for six-part chorus and alto saxophoneforces: SSAATB Choir, Alto Saxophone
published by: Composer
Turning to the new antiphons, Will Todd’s O Wisdom is a very energetic composition. Much use is made of jazzy syncopation. I think this is a terrific piece in which the music mixes dance-like rhythms and a spirit of proclamation. Todd most effectively marries the old world of the words and the new world of his very twenty-first century music. The soprano saxophone is an extremely prominent extra voice in the Todd piece. In contrast Matthew Kaner uses the more mellow alto sax in his setting of O Adonai and he integrates the instrument more into the vocal texture. Samuel Rathbone’s O Root of Jesse is, as Michael Emery says, “thoughtful and reflective” and the soprano saxophone combines most effectively with the voices. Francis Pott uses the same type of sax in O Key of David but he uses the solo instrument much more dramatically, even to the extent that he asks the player, who begins and ends the piece, to start playing out of sight if possible and to retreat from vision at the end. I’m not sure that effect is attempted here. In this piece there’s a good deal of urgent and powerful writing, both for the singers and for the saxophonist. The music includes a number of free-flowing passages for the instrument alone.
John Quinn, Musicweb International