Arranger’s note: The opening clarinet gliss in Gershwin’s classic is so well known that it might seem sacrilegious to arrange it for another instrument. I had encountered several other arrangements of “Rhapsody in Blue'”for quartet that had negotiated the gliss in various ways e.g. by splitting it between two saxes or retaining the clarinet in the opening bars.
Neither of these approaches had fully convinced me, so the gliss issue deterred me from attempting the arrangement for quite some time. However, by experimenting on my soprano, I found that I could imitate the gliss effectively, retaining the spirit of the original despite losing a whole octave!
Even though I’d overcome the gliss challenge, there remained the problem of reducing a large-scale work with piano to quartet format although use of saxes obviously assists in conveying the jazz idiom, as do the saxes in the original orchestration. My solution raised new challenges with its demands on stamina and technique, particularly since Saxtet required its entire concert repertoire to be memorized. However, it’s well worth any aspiring saxophone quartet mastering this arrangement, as it’s a sure winner at party time or in the concert hall.
The E-Edition PDF bundle comes with the following parts:
“Rhapsody in Blue” is also available in hard-copy from June Emerson Wind Music.
Rhapsody in Blue arranged by Nigel Wood from the well-known work by Gershwin is an exciting arrangement. Requiring a sound technique from all four players, this has plenty to get your teeth into. The opening gliss is played by the soprano, setting the scene for this ambitious but rewarding work. Advanced.
Clarinet and Saxophone Society Magazine, Winter 1999