This has all been very enlightening. Like many mid-century American composers, it seems that Dahl's music has been lost to the ages. I would certainly enjoy hearing his original project in a higher quality than what I can recall from the world premiere with Rascher.Dahl was not happy with the original results, not with his original efforts.
His writing was too demanding and too sophisticated for wind ensembles of the time and he quickly turned away from the medium and re-scored the concerto for orchestral winds.
In his second revision, Dahl further scaled back the scope of the work to accommodate the shorter length (and attention span) that he observed in wind ensemble programming in the hopes of obtaining more performances. He also simplified the solo saxophone part so that others besides Rascher could play it.
Today we have many wind groups, conductors and soloists who can well grasp the depth and magnitude of the original version, and no doubt offer performances at the highest technical and musical level that Dahl envisioned and conceived . It is simply a question of volition, curiosity and will.
"Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead."
- Charles Bukowski
Hearing it live with a modern wind ensemble is very possible. It simply takes the interest and will of saxophone players and wind conductors to make it happen easily and quickly.This has all been very enlightening. Like many mid-century American composers, it seems that Dahl's music has been lost to the ages. I would certainly enjoy hearing his original project in a higher quality than what I can recall from the world premiere with Rascher.
As somebody who is fascinated not only by this concerto but by Dahl's music in general, this is a real tragedy. His sax concerto and Sinfonietta for wind band really strike me as incredible pieces. I played Dahl's "Sonata da Camera" on my senior clarinet recital, a hardly-known and near-impossible-to-find piece that is fun but vastly different from the concerto. I'm reading Dahl's biography as well. I hope you can muster up some support somewhere, because I think being able to hear the original version of this concerto would really be something else.Here is a brief summary of the status of the original Dahl Concerto. I own the last set of score and parts to the original. (Dahl withdrew all other sets except the one he forgot about that I discovered.) The publisher owns the rights to the work. They have been reluctant to issue the original version, in that the revised Dahl is one of their most profitable rental pieces. In negotiation with them, they agreed that if there was a groundswell of support from the saxophone and wind ensemble community expressing interest in the original , they would consider adding it to their catalogue. To do this, they have allowed me the opportunity to lecture, perform and record the original work, as a means of creating a dialogue and promoting an awareness of this extraordinary music. I have tried for years to interest NASA, other saxophone organizations, as well as saxophone and wind studios across the country in hosting a performance to stimulate this awareness and dialogue (for which I do not charge a fee). The result is either lack of interest or purely partisan posturing of only having their saxophone instructor as soloist. So this amazing work, one that deserves to be heard and appreciated, remains unknown and unplayed, and probably will remain that way. By the way, I have played it some 14 times over the years with wind ensembles in concerts that have been tremendously encouraging and supportive. But the climate today is more conducive to appreciating such an epic, early work than ever before. Every avenue that I continue to explore to create a greater dialogue that might lead to a groundswell of support has been blocked. It does not look good.
Yes, hearing and exploring the original version of the Dahl Saxophone Concerto is an experience that will change one's understanding and appreciation of both the wind ensemble and the nature of saxophone music! It certainly changed my outlook as a performer.
As a clarinetist, you should also look at Dahl's amazing chamber work, Concerto a Tre for violin, clarinet and cello. One of the great American chamber works of the 20th century, and written around the time of the saxophone concerto.
Dahl's other epic work of that era is his ground-breaking Music for Brass Instruments. Simply stunning.
I have actually heard both of those pieces, and I have to agree with you. I've unfortunately never gotten to play the chamber piece, but with any luck I can find some string players willing to learn it with me. Have you heard Dahl's serenade for four flutes? That's another one that's probably less serious of a piece but still just as incredible to hear.
"Pay no attention to what critics say. No statue has ever been put up to a critic." ~Jean Sibelius