New arrangement for saxophone quartet: Quartet in D minor

Many years ago I played clarinet in a woodwind quartet and we were quite fond of Giovanni Battista Gambaro's compositions. They were Classical in style, lots of elegance and beauty, satisfying melody lines with well defined cadences (like watching a bus approach). Just very satisfying and fun to play.

I came across an old score of one of his quartets and arranged it for saxophone quartet. It's the second quartet from Tre Quartetti: Quartet in D minor.

The original composition by Gambaro was a collection of three quartets, written for flute, clarinet, horn and bassoon. This arrangement substitutes soprano saxophone for flute, alto saxophone for clarinet, tenor saxophone for horn and baritone saxophone for bassoon. The original key is lowered by a third (low A on baritone being the lowest note required) to avoid the requirement for extreme range; altissimo G is the highest altissimo note (in the alto saxophone).

It works quite nicely as a saxophone quartet, have a listen to students trying out the parts (short clip of the first movement):

About Gambaro

Giovanni Battista Gambaro was born in Genoa, a port city and the capital of northwest Italy's Liguria region, in 1785. He became highly regarded as a clarinettist, composer and publisher, playing a significant role in the musical life of Italy and Paris. After moving to Paris he became principal clarinettist in the Italian Theatre Orchestra around 1816, becoming the conductor by 1828. He was involved in the Gambaro family music publishing company in Paris from around 1808, publishing works by himself, his brother Giovanni, and other composers.

Giovanni was noted for preferring Ivan Müller’s 13- key clarinet as his instrument of choice as it allowed for substantially more technical dexterity than other clarinets of the day. Gambaro extolled the advantages of Müller’s instruments to other clarinettists (including Frédéric Berr), and published Müller’s method for the instrument. According to the Revue et gazette musicale de Paris (obituary) Giovanni Gambaro died in 1850.


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