Walking the Dog
A Conversation with Saxophonist Andreas Mader and Pianist Joseph Moog

Austrian saxophonist Andreas Mader and German pianist Joseph Moog recently released an album titled “Walking the Dog.” The title is taken from a piece written by George Gershwin for the film “Shall We Dance.” The album features a diverse range of music, including selections from Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet and two pieces by Gershwin. More importantly, the album pays homage to Adolf Sax by exploring a wide array of compositions by French composers such as Debussy, Milhaud, Lili Boulanger, and Jean Francaix.

Andreas Mader

Andreas Mader © Marco Borggreve

Both Andreas Mader and Joseph Moog have impressive profiles. Andreas won the Naumburg Competition in New York and the Werner Pirchner Prize in Austria. Steinway Artist Joseph received the Gramophone Classical Music Award and two International Classical Music Awards. He is also a Grammy nominee. In the interview, Andreas and Joseph will tell us about them and the album.

How did you two meet and start working together?

Andreas Mader: I heard Joseph as a soloist for the first time at a concert in Luxembourg, and we got talking afterward. When the concert at Carnegie Hall came up via the Naumburg Competition, I immediately thought of Joseph, whose playing and musical mastery had made a deep impression on me. He was immediately motivated to start a duo project and, not long afterward, suggested the idea of a recording. After the first joint talks and rehearsals, it soon became clear that the collaboration would work very well on both a musical and personal level.

Joseph Moog: When Andreas contacted me and asked if I would like to play with him in the Weill Recital Hall at Carnegie Hall in New York, I found that very appealing; I had already seen some impressive videos of him as a saxophonist, and I was also interested in the idea of championing chamber music composed for the instrument.

Congratulations on the release of the album Walking the Dog. I really enjoy the diverse repertoire in this album. Could you share how you came up with such an intriguing program?

"Walking the Dog" Joseph Moog and Andreas Mader album

Andreas and Joseph: Our goal was to find a fresh combination of original and arranged works for saxophone and piano that emphasize various characteristics of the formation: the great ability for colors and nuances, especially in Debussy and Boulanger, that bring a great depth and meaning to the music but also a great pleasure of music making—both in the dance and jazz-influenced Works. The saxophone always stays in a classical vernacular; however, it can show a great deal of its ability of transmutation.

Most of the arranged works here are somewhat connected to the instrument: there is a tenor saxophone in Romeo and Juliet and a whole group of saxes in the Rhapsody in Blue. We tried to find bridges to the wonderful original works and to create a musical context in which they could thrive.

Several pieces were not initially written for saxophones. What was the consideration when you arranged them to the saxophones? Was there any difficulty?

Andreas Mader: Before considering arranging something for the instrument, there is always the question of whether this piece can exist being played on the saxophone without leaving any doubt whether it works. Ideally, if someone listens to it, they don’t even think about whether it is original. Purely musical aspects should be in the foreground. If I think that could be the case, I would try it out and see if it can succeed. This also has to do with a very personal sense of what I can do on the instrument – and what not.

In this case, I felt that the saxophone was very natural in its musical roles in all the pieces. Prokofiev is technically very challenging; I did have to do some minor adaptions to make it more playable for a wind instrument. But the musical material is so strong that they stay fully intact – and sometimes perhaps even profit from a slightly different angle.

In Boulanger, I initially doubted whether I should play it on the soprano or alto saxophone. Finally, after trying both in concerts, I went for the alto. The sound is much darker and brings out wonderful aspects of the piece.

Besides working together, do you each have some solo projects? Would you like to share?

Joseph Moog

Joseph Moog © Thommy Mardo

Andreas Mader: Both Joseph and I also have individual projects. Joseph is very active as a soloist with numerous orchestras internationally.

I also work as a soloist with different ensembles and orchestras and create my projects, such as Der Sandmann, a visual concert last season.

Der Sandmann – Duo M/P & Fly Theatre

At the moment, I am working on a project with my ensemble that will connect music by Piazzolla, Ibert, Ravel, and Caroline Shaw with a live-video technique I developed. More to that soon.

To purchase and stream the album, please visit here.

Learn more about Andreas Madar and Joseph Moog.

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