In his sixth CD release, West Virginia University saxophonist Michael Ibrahim has captured some essential pieces of the instrument’s repertoire. He and pianist Liz Ames take a tour through a cross-section of composers from pre- to post-Soviet eras.

The CD, “Soviet Music for Saxophone and Piano,” was released by Teal Creek Music. It features music by composers whose styles bridge jazz, modernism, and neoclassicism.

“I was drawn to the music for its lively combination of playfulness and austerity, largely a manifestation of the composers’ both progressive and repressive cultural backdrop,” said Ibrahim, an associate professor in WVU’s School of Music and a member of WVU’s Academic Leadership Fellows Program.

“The compositions are studied by almost all of my students in WVU’s saxophone studio, and I was interested in making a recording for discussion and learning purposes,”

The four-movement “Brillance” is by Ida Gotkovsky, professor of music theory at the Conservatoire National Superieur de Musique de Paris, who studied with Olivier Messiaen and Nadia Boulanger.

Also from the Conservatoire was the late Alexander Tcherepnin, who headed the school’s piano program. His father was contemporary of Nicolai Rimsky-Korsakov, Igor Stravinsky, and Sergei Prokofiev. Tcherepnin’s three-movement “Sonatine Sportive” sparks athletic back-and-forth between saxophonist and pianist.

“There has been renewed interest in the work of Czech composer and pianist Erwin Schulhoff, whose life ended in a concentration camp in Germany during World War II,” Ibrahim said. “He was a gifted jazz pianist and incorporated jazz rhythms into his works.”

Ibrahim and Ames play Schulhoff’s four-movement “Hot Sonata,” evoking “one of the smoky nightclubs that Schulhoff loved so much.”

Underground Soviet composer Edison Denisov, who studied mathematics before pursuing composition, references Siberian folk melodies jazz and Western music and other influences for his three-movement “Sonate.” “This work is a staple of the saxophone repertoire for bridging traditional literature with contemporary styles.”

The project was supported in part by a WVU Research and Scholarship Advancement Grant. The CD is available on Amazon, iTunes and Spotify.



CONTACT: David Welsh, WVU College of Creative Arts

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