Takashi Yoshimatsu, who has a long-term association with Chandos, in 1994 wrote a concerto for Sugawa titled Cyber-bird, a piece which utilises all the functions of the saxophone, and fuses classical, ethnic and jazz styles. When Sugawa approached Yoshimatsu for a new concerto, the composer declined, saying, ‘I can’t compose a new work that surpasses the last one’. Yet, when the idea of a soprano saxophone concerto was mentioned, he writes, ‘I thought, maybe I can compose a concerto for the soprano sax that highlights “calm”, in contrast to the “motion” characteristic of Cyber-bird, and so I started to structure a new work’. The ‘Albireo’ of the title is the name of the double Beta star that sits at the beak of the constellation Cygnus. These two stars shine respectively bright goldenyellow like a topaz and bluish-green like a sapphire. Yoshimatsu continues, ‘Albireo Mode symbolises the character of the soprano sax, which is two-fold, combining both coolness and heat, both beauty and depth. That is why I named the cool and beautiful first part “Topaz” and the hot and deep second part “Sapphire”’. The work was premiered by Sugawa in 2005 at the Symphony Hall in Osaka.
Toshiyuki Honda began his professional career as a saxophonist. He writes of the connection between Sugawa and the Concerto du vent, ‘Nobuya Sugawa, a saxophone player like me and a friend whom I respect very much, entrusted me with the task of writing a concerto for him, a concerto that would represent a tribute to jazz. People tend to associate jazz with ad lib and rhythm and blues, but we took a slightly different direction… It was a great honour to be able to record with the BBC Philharmonic and Nobuya Sugawa… “Vent” is the French word for wind. Please think of the Concerto du vent as a Concerto of the wind’.
Completing the recording are Ibert’s Concertino da camera, one of the best-known works for alto saxophone, by a composer Yutaka Sado has conducted on many occasions, and Larsson’s popular Concerto for Saxophone and String Orchestra.