Vigoresque is a short work for alto saxophone and cello. It was first performed in 1968 at a concert of my own compositions, in Krakow, Poland.
The spontaneity of its character mirrors the spontaneity in the actual writing of the piece. Two colleagues of mine (one a cellist with impressive concert credentials and the other one a sax player with an equally impressive jazz presence), argued that it was impossible to write for their combination of instruments, and challenged me to the task. I decided to confirm their worst suspicions! The result saw a light – hearted piece exploring the colouristic similarities and contrasts of these two instruments. To prove them (and everybody else) wrong I sat down and wrote the piece in two days. I remember drawing a real pleasure from the writing of it!
The piece became representative of the humour of the absurd, with which I was surrounded in Poland. When asked who I was mocking, I smiled back. In reality I was mocking that which was (and still is some half a century later) in abundance around us: pretension and empty snobbery. It was at this point in my career that I realized that I was to become a composer whose music was going to be imbued with the humour of the absurd. One way or another, this type of humour seems to have typified my compositions in the years to come.
There is something from jazz and something from the concert music repertoire in this work. In reality, it can be seen as a serious composition. It seems that this is the way it has been received over the years. (Perhaps it is just me who cannot keep my face straight listening to it). Two particular characteristics define the work: its speed, and the array of colours that are derived from both instruments.
The composition is designed in one movement, though one is able to discern three sections in it. The players sit facing one another a few feet apart, at the front of the stage – which provides an opportunity for spatial resonance and an eye contact. The composition is virtuosic for both soloists and is marked by a degree of freedom of interpretation and spontaneity.