Sergei Prokofiev – Romeo and Juliet (1st & 2nd Suite)

Prokofiev, Sergei / ROMEO AND JULIET: SUITE NO. 2, OP. 64 TERI recently played tenor saxophone part in Romeo and Juliet (1st & 2nd Suite) by Sergei Prokofiev with Zagreb Philharmonic and David Danzmayr conducting. This great music employs tenor sax voice in solo parts and orchestra sections doubling mostly in unison with clarinet, bass clarinet or french horns. The first, most challenging and recognizable solo is in movement 1, suite 2. This is not technically difficult (it is f# minor arpeggio), but it starts from low c# sixteenth note followed by dotted eight c# and another sixteenth c# in piano (soft) dynamic, although it could be played louder in mp dynamics without worries. The problem is that this is the VERY FIRST note played in the piece, so be sure the reed speaks well in low register, check the sticky c# key and pray for the best. There are a few more solos in suite 2, but they are in mid to higher range, not technically challenging. Focus should be placed on smooth attack, nice sound with vibrato and tuning, especially in soft dynamics and be sure to count the rests, do not rely on others’ entrances, because they may never come. Here you can see the Suite 2 saxophone part.

I did some research and found out that the saxophone part was sometimes played by other instruments. In this New York Philharmonic archived score, it is clear by markings that the saxophone part is shared between bassoon, viola and clarinet. In this video below the piece is performed by Leningrad Philharmonic and Yevgeny Mravinsky conducting. It is clear that the saxophone part is played by bass clarinet and clarinet, depending on the range. Why so? The possible reasons could be non-availability of the adequate saxophone player or conductor’s disregard of the saxophone as a classical voice.
Read more in this article about Prokofiev’s use of the saxophone in other scores.