Written in 2016, Le Maître sans Baton is a duet for saxophone and piano and lasts 8¾ minutes. Three saxophones are employed, soprano, alto and tenor, these being played by the same player.
This piece is dedicated to the memory of Pierre Boulez who lived from 26 March 1925 to 5 January 2016. The title is both a reference to his composition Le Marteau sans Maître and his style of conducting – without a baton, even when commanding large orchestral forces. The piece is an acknowledgment of how he brought new music by many of his contemporaries to a wider audience. It makes no attempt to pastiche his compositional style.
The work has three sections: slow, fast, slow, played without a break. The first section uses tenor saxophone which plays a lyrical melody over a chordal accompaniment in the piano, with the exception of one phrase where the main theme is in the piano. This leads to the second section which employs the soprano saxophone and is based on a bouncy melody in 9/8 and 6/8 time. This section finishes with a short cadenza for the saxophone which leads directly into the final section, for alto saxophone. Here, a development of the original theme is heard over a chordal and arpeggiated accompaniment. The work ends calmly in a high register.