The Four Elements was originally written for string orchestra and sax quartet, with the first performance being given by Sax Blue alongside the strings of the North Warwickshire Chamber Orchestra. However, the version presented here is orchestrated for larger symphony orchestra, with the sax quartet parts being taken by other orchestral instruments.
1st Movement: Earth.
The baritone sax originally took the main voice in this movement, a hymn to the ageless earth. It is a piece of layered parts, reflecting the layers of soil and rock on which our little lives are built. In this version, the low brass and bassoon play a main part.
2nd Movement: Air
This is a showcase originally for the soprano sax, and the mood is light and joyful. Here, high woodwinds rise to the challenge. There is very little time to stop and rest, as the music is buffetted around rather like a leaf on the wind.
3rd Movement: Water
It was the tenor saxophone’s turn now to shine, in the second of the slow movements. Here, it becomes mainly a piece for cello. The mood is tender, with the strings evoking the gentle rocking of the waves, and the movement as a whole is an expression of the soothing and maternal nature of water, rather than the fearsome storms on the sea.
4th Movement: Fire
The shortest of the movements, Fire gave the alto sax room to express itself. Here, the trumpet takes it’s place. The movement is insistent and full of movement, from it’s first rumblings (as a tiny flame takes hold) through it’s climactic middle section, from which it dies away, reflecting again on the quieter subject it opens with. A final burst of energy brings the piece to it’s conclusion.