Notes

Symphony #4 (2017): The 1st movement, Allegro, begins simply with a theme in the winds followed by a contrasting, more rhythmic one for clarinet and horns, both of which are extended and restated by the rest of the orchestra. A lyrical theme is then introduced by the strings, following which the clarinet’s rhythmical idea is given a workout by the trumpets (there are three used in this symphony). After the strings’ lyricism has been heard again, the time changes to 12/8 and eventually leads to the first big tutti of the movement after which the main themes are heard again.

 

The second movement, Andante, is in 6/8 time, and is very gentle with an oboe accompanied by high strings and a celesta. This melody is taken up by the bassoon and cellos with its first three notes providing the trombones with a very dark idea, thrice repeated, but mollified by the strings. The wind and brass then come up with a first theme extension in a rather jolly manner, which is joined with a sombre idea on all the strings and lower instruments. The main melody is reinstated on a solo viola and the sombre theme reappears and leads to the movement’s climax, after which the movement ends quietly with the celesta heard again in the background.

 

In the 3rd movement, Allegro, we are back in the lighter mood of the beginning with a second theme, again lyrical, continuing this light atmosphere. Much is made of some 16th notes in the first theme and also of three rising 8th notes that the brass enjoy making into a kind of chorale. The energy level remains high throughout.

 

Meditation: In Flanders Fields (2016): The famous poem written by Lieutenant-Colonel John McCrae in the first World War is narrated against a background of subdued strings which are joined by a trumpet. The mood is one of quiet contemplation.

 

Symphony #5 (2018): The opening Allegro of this work is more serious than Symphony No. 4 had been, with the material being developed for some time before a contrasting idea is heard on a new voice: an alto saxophone, whose melody is played against a counterpoint of a bassoon (continuing the original material) and high strings. This idea is taken up by the strings and provides the brass with an opportunity to blaze forth. The remainder of the movement develops these themes and their offshoots until the dynamic level drops to pianissimo for long held notes in the strings which lead directly to the Adagio. This is purely lyrical, a rich melody beginning in the strings. A secondary theme is presented by the horns, and both these melodies provide the material for the rest of the movement. Again, high held notes on the strings lead directly to the Vivace, which is much more lighthearted. A second theme is heard and the two ideas lead us through their various permutations until the brass find a way of making a chorale and the piece ends jubilantly.

 

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