Fantasia on 'Lenggang Kangkung' for Alto Saxophone and Piano
Instrumentation: Alto Saxophone, Piano
Duration: 5' 28"
Ipomoea aquatica - better known as kangkung in Singapore - is a leafy vegetable similar to spinach that is often found near waterways and paddy fields in Southeast Asia. The folk song 'Lenggang Kangkung' capitalises on this bucolic connection - idiomatically meaning to be carefree and leisurely, it details life in a very laid-back setting reflective of the environment where the kangkung is often found.
Similar to the swaying nature of the vegetable, the fantasia starts with a sinuous theme in the piano, before building up through a series of chords and meandering phrases into a virtuosic saxophone entry. A calming section ensues - evoking the peaceful environment where kangkung is natively found - built on a theme derived from the song. After yet another build-up in intensity, the music leads to a section where phrases of the tune are traded between the saxophone and the piano, concluding in a final saxophone cadenza and a final iteration of the calming motif in the piano.
This piece received its premiere through Stories from Singapore, a project spearheaded by Singaporean saxophonist Samuel Phua to commission new works from Singaporean composers for the saxophone. Funded by the National Arts Council, the compositions were recorded and filmed at MusoSpace; Fantasia on 'Lenggang Kangkung' was released on 23 May 2022 and was premiered by Samuel (alto saxophone) and Jonathan Shin (piano).