City Noir

City Noir

Pulitzer Prize–winning composer John Adams addresses the dearth of works for saxophone in the classical canon with these two pieces. Written in 2009, City Noir features alto saxophonist Timothy McAllister as de facto soloist. Adams explains in the liner notes that this three-movement symphony can be experienced independently or as “the soundtrack to an imagined film noir.” “The City and Its Double” conveys an urban setting’s flutter and shadow activities by approximating a jazz rhythm section (vibraphone instead of piano, pizzicato double bass, cymbals) intertwined with traditional orchestral underpinning. McAllister executes expressive, ballad-like passages during “The Song Is for You,” while “Boulevard Night” ties everything together thematically and emotionally, third act–style. The muscular and explorative Saxophone Concerto from 2013 is a personal work for Adams, who grew up listening to saxophonists (including his father, who played in swing bands) and penned this with McAllister in mind.

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