James Bennett II is a staff writer for WQXR.
Saxophonist Plays Devilishly Quick Paganini Caprice
Wednesday, January 11, 2017 - 01:08 PM
The music of Pedro Rafael Garcia Moreno, also known as Pedrosaxo, aggressively trespasses boundaries and expectations. The saxophonist expands the limits of the instrument and many of his performances see him experimenting with timbre or demonstrating the percussive possibilities of his horn.
But his latest video goes in a completely different direction. According to the description, Pedrosaxo used this opportunity to answer a question that many listeners ask: “Are you classically trained?”
In true Pedrosaxo fashion, a simple response wouldn’t do. Instead, he demonstrated his classical saxophone mastery with an arrangement of Niccolò Paganini’s dizzying Caprice No. 5. Paganini’s Caprices are considered some of the most difficult solo violin pieces in the instrument’s repertoire, and it’s easy to hear why after giving even one of them a brief listen. Although written for violin, watching any instrument voice Paganini’s genius is a pleasure.
The fifth Caprice, like its other 23 capricious cousins, was written as an exercise that would hone a particular violin-centric skill. Violin technique isn’t exactly a perfect match for saxophones, but Pedrosaxo shows how the piece requires control of two special woodwind skills: circular breathing and double tonguing. Check it out: