I wanted to create a piece for saxophone quartet that endured a sound world that was quite different from other works that I have heard, such as works that flourish with melodies and bestow a platform for the virtuosity of the instruments. Instead, In memoriam is a very slow piece and built upon the idea of a very gradual and subtle unwinding of harmonies as it progresses. I also wanted to experiment with using overtones, as I knew they could be effective within the environment I wanted to set up. The beginning and end of the piece demonstrates this timbral effect - I have written G (tenor) against Ab (alto), which creates a warm panorama of overtones that beat against each other. These attributes perhaps explore the virtuosity of the players in the way of stamina, subtlety and the way the instruments can melt together and sometimes become one.
Overall, the techniques used were to create a piece that is meditative and forms a kind of expressive staticism to aid relief of a contemplative wilderness that one can endure with the loss of someone very close to you.
The piece was written in the memory of my father, Leslie Williamson and is recorded on the Lunar Saxophone Quartet’s album FLUX.
“…The highlights though, are less dynamic: James Williamson’s In Memoriam is achingly contemplative…
– The Independent (Andy Gill, 08/04/11)
“…In Memoriam starts out with somewhat sad and sorrowful long notes with overtones the item develops harmonically extremely well and displays the awesome stamina of LSQ’s embouchures!”
– Clarinet and Saxophone Society Magazine (Kenneth Morris)