I initially discovered the soprillo in 2000 and thought it would complete the range of saxophones represented in the National Saxophone Choir which I founded and was musical director. It soon became clear that the soprillo was potentially much more than an ensemble instrument, so I commissioned Philip Buttall to write a piece that would showcase its agility and pathos, Waltzing Soprillda.
The performance received a standing ovation at the 2006 World Saxophone Congress in Slovenia, and gradually my confidence grew to plan, compose and arrange an entire album of Soprillo-specific works which lead to Soprillogy. My criteria for including a piece was simply that I could adapt it for the instrument and I liked the music, making this a highly personal CD, and one that defies categorization.
The soprillo saxophone (also known as the piccolo or sopranissimo saxophone) is the smallest member of the saxophone family. It is pitched in B♭, one octave above the soprano saxophone.
SOPRILLOGY CD REVIEWS
American Saxophone Journal Review
By Frank Bongiorno
Saxophonist Nigel Wood studied music as an undergraduate student at Birmingham Conservatoire in the United Kingdom. Upon graduating, he not only became active as a freelance musician, but also became on of the first specialist professors of saxophone at the Conservatoire.
Australian Clarinet and Saxophone
By Timothy Franklin
This new album by Nigel Wood is the first album to feature the soprillo saxophone in its entirety. At an octave higher than the soprano, the soprillo is a unique and enchanting sounding addition to the saxophone family. Soprillogy is an engaging and accessible album featuring new music especially composed for the instrument.
The Herald - UK
By Keith Bruce
Seasoned saxophone spotters have their work cut out catching glimpses of all possible sizes of the instrument. The contrabass (below the bass which found an occasional home in jazz, notably in the hands of the late Harry Gold) is a real rarity and at the other end of the scale the sopranino is one size smaller than the soprano played by Steve Lacy and Jan Garbarek.
MORE ABOUT THE SOPRILLO
Soprillos are designed and manufactured by the German instrument maker Benedikt Eppelsheim.
Because of the difficulties in building such a small instrument - the soprillo is 30 cm (12 in) long, 33 cm (13 in) with the mouthpiece - it is only since the mid-2010s that a true sopranissimo saxophone has been able to be produced. The keywork only extends to a written E♭6 (sounding D♭7), rather than F, F♯, or sometimes G, like most saxophones, and the upper octave key has to be placed on the mouthpiece.
The extremely small mouthpiece requires a small and focused embouchure, making the soprillo difficult to play, particularly in its upper register. There is a limited market demand for soprillos, reducing the economy of scale and making the soprillo more expensive than more common saxophones like the alto or tenor