Stephen Scotchmer

Composer | Conductor | Musician

Cadenza snip

Musical Notes

Introduction 

My seven symphonies are a very significant part of my output as a composer. With the exception of the first, the other six have all been written in the last five years (the last completed on February 4th 2021). Although not planned as such, they have all been shaped or influenced by illness and/or a questioning of faith. The first symphony was without a doubt a response to my mother's demise through dementia and her death in 2011. I had no idea when I set Henry Longfellow's poem 'Nature' in the last movement of that symphony that I too would shortly succumb to the inequities of ageing. The following lines from the poem have haunted me ever since: 

So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,

Orchestral music has always been my first love, so it was inevitable that I would choose this medium to express my thoughts. The symphony is viewed by some as an archaic form, but for me it is simply a practical vehicle to write a fairly lengthy piece of music that can explore many moods and enable me to assemble my thoughts in a coherent  manner. Playing the violin and conducting an amateur orchestra for forty years have equipped me well for tackling this large project.

Each of the seven symphonies begins with a brief slow introduction which goes on to play a significant role in the rest of the work. The seven symphonies (in chronological order), have tonal centres of C, D, E, F, G, A, & B respectively. Number one has the addition of a solo soprano in the fourth movement and number six has a four part chorus in its third and final movement.

1st Symphony (Listen to the first movement here)

The first movement is youthful and energetic. The second idea is based on bird-song. Not an exotic bird, but a woodpigeon. My wife and I moved to a suburb of Reading in 2011 and the area both reminded us of our childhood in the 1960s. Our garden is constantly resounding to their 5 note call. The opening and closing two chords of the movement (C major and C# minor) sow a seed of doubt about the eventual outcome of the work. The first movement is in standard sonata form.

2nd Movement (Listen to the second movement here)

The second movement is pastoral in nature. It is in 6/8 time and is like a gentle, albeit slowish sicilienne. At 2 mins. 44 secs the 'Kiss Motif' is heard for the first time. This three note motif will play a central role in the remainder of the symphony. The mood of this movement is thoughtful and reflective. Shortly before the recapitulation of the opening melody there is a fugato starting with the first trumpet.

3rd Movement (Scherzo) (Listen to the Scherzo here)

This movement has an ABABA structure. The opening is characterised by an obsessive two note ostinato which accompanies a melody played by two clarinets. The 5 note woodpigeon motif and the 'Kiss' motif both make appearances, but they are tranformed into grotesque caricatures. The B section has a strange melody which is oddly expressive. (My mother always came to lunch and tea on a Sunday and she used to rock gently to the theme tune of Lark Rise to Candleford. It was both tragic and touching at the same time!)   

4th Movement (Listen to the fourth movement here)

The last movement pulls the whole symphony together, programmatically and thematically. I wrote the solo soprano part for my long-term German friend Margarete Nuesslein. She gave the first performance of just the 4th movement in November 2014 and again in November 2015 when the whole work was performed in the Anvil concert hall Basingstoke.


The final chapter of the symphony begins as it started, with an angst ridden opening statement, (presented by the whole orchestra) which quickly recedes into a more reassuring passage. After the briefest reference to previous themes, the music settles down and a solo soprano introduces the first of two poems: ‘Nature’ by Henry Longfellow followed by ‘Remember’ by Christina Rossetti. Whilst the vocal line is necessarily through composed, both poems have a principal theme, which serves as a ritornello to unify each of the sections. In addition, subtle references to the other movements are discreetly worked into the orchestral textures.
The orchestral interlude between the poems is at the heart of the movement, if not the symphony. This section represents the final journey from this life to the next. A rich and conflicting gamut of emotions and moods are explored during this inexorable orchestral passage. At various times, the music is frightening, magnificent, reassuring and even judgemental. It is as if the whole of one’s existence is flashing by in a matter of seconds. In another couple of moments the music dissipates and an eerie calm is established. As if without a final judgement, the music, (and one’s soul) arrive in another world. It is not at all certain whether the second poem is delivered from this life or the next, although the text implies the former. The ‘Kiss’ motif, which first appeared as a lover’s kiss, then as a mocking sneer, followed by a mother’s kiss, finally becomes a farewell kiss.
The final poem (‘Remember’) is initially set in the tonic minor (C minor). The ‘Kiss’ motif (now to the forefront) is the ritornello theme for the poem. The ambivalent nature of the text doesn’t allow us to seek much solace from the words. Forty-six bars from the end of the symphony a rainbow of hope appears when the music moves to the tonic major to the words: “And afterwards remember, do not grieve.” It would appear that inner peace has finally been bestowed on the (departed?) spirit. However, in the closing bars of the piece the harmonic conflict of C sharp minor against C major (the opening bars of the symphony) leaves a niggling doubt.

Nature
As a fond mother, when the day is o'er,
Leads by the hand her little child to bed,
Half willing, half reluctant to be led,
And leave his broken playthings on the floor,
Still gazing at them through the open door,
Nor wholly reassured and comforted
By promises of others in their stead,
Which, though more splendid, may not please him more;
So Nature deals with us, and takes away
Our playthings one by one, and by the hand
Leads us to rest so gently, that we go
Scarce knowing if we wish to go or stay,
Being too full of sleep to understand
How far the unknown transcends the what we know.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Remember

Remember me when I am gone away,
Gone far away into the silent land;
When you can no more hold me by the hand,
Nor I half turn to go yet turning stay.
Remember me when no more day by day
You tell me of our future that you planned:
Only remember me; you understand
It will be late to counsel then or pray.
Yet if you should forget me for a while
And afterwards remember, do not grieve:
For if the darkness and corruption leave
A vestige of the thoughts that once I had,
Better by far you should forget and smile
Than that you should remember and be sad.

Christina Rossetti

2nd Symphony

Spurred on by the success of the  performance of the last movement only of the 1st Symphony in November 2014, I began writing a second symphony. Having retired in August 2014 I now had plenty of time and the motivation to write another large scale work. When I heard about the massacre at the Bataclan Theatre in Paris on November 13th 2015, I decided to write a musical tribute to the memory of Antoine Leiris's family, entitled Valse Tragique, (the 2nd movement of the 2nd symphony). At the end of November 2015 my first symphony received its first full performance in the Anvil concert hall with the BSO. The following day my wife and I went on a three and a half week trip to Australia and New Zealand - one of the best experiences of our lives! On the plane ride (outward bound) I wrote the principal theme for the last movement. On returning to the UK, I completed all four movements except for the final orchestrations. In May 2016 I developed a debilitating illness which left me in constant pain (night and day) and prevented me from doing the most basic daily routines. Despite this, I completed the orchestrations and arranged to have the symphony recorded in the Czech Republic with the Brno Filharmonie. The recording on this website is from the October 2016 recording session.

1st Movement (Listen to the first movement here)

The first fourteen bars of the movement play a significant rôle in the overall structure of the work. The coda to the last movement is mostly based on this material. The other ideas in the Allegro and 2nd group of themes are based around a four note motif. The coda is a sign of things to come. This one is relatively small, but the one in the 4th movt. is a really significant and expanded part of the structure.

2nd Movement (Listen to the second movement here)

This movement attempts to express the grief and resolute character of Antoine Leiris - a remarkable man.
I wanted to afford Antoine a chance to embrace his wife again in a slow and moving waltz. After the intial statement of the principal melody, the couple dance hand in hand; Helene represented by the upper winds, Antoine by the lower winds. A little later on in the piece, the profoundly wounded but defiant spirit of Antoine Leiris is depicted by a bi-tonal fragment of La marseillaise, played by the oboe, accompanied by pizzicato strings, a flute and a clarinet. After a climactic outpouring of grief, the main theme returns proclaiming Antoine’s resolute determination to overcome adversity. Unfortunately, the music cannot prevent the outcome of this senseless act of violence.

3rd Movement (Scherzo) (Listen to the Scherzo here)

The capricious scherzo is in an overall ABA structure . The B section is itself in three parts. The A section is characterised by dotted rhythms and driving, mischievous, angular melodies. The central section (Trio) has an initial idea in 5/8 time followed by a whimsical melody which develops into a substantial fugato. The initial idea returns followed by a recapitulation of the A section; this time it is extended, providing a defiant and bellicose conclusion.

4th Movement (Listen to the fourth movement here)

The last movement owes much of its inspiration to my trip to Australia and New Zealand. It is cast in Rondo form - ABACA followed by an extensive coda which thematically ties the whole work together. The A melody is in two parts and on its return after sections B & C the first half is played by the woodwind section (following episode B) and the brass section (following episode C). Each of the episodes (B & C) represents a place on our travels. The B section - a snorkel on the Great Barrier Reef, the C section- the Abel Tasman National Park in New Zealand. As mentioned previously, the coda is largely based on the first fourteen bars of the symphony. There is a brief quote from 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing' inspired by an extraordinary visit to the church 'St Mary's by the Sea' (Port Douglas) in the week leading up to Christmas. The organ like sonorities of the coda were inspired by an organ recital I went to in Christ Church cathedral, Nelson (South Island New Zealand). The 4th movement of this symphony is imbued with a sense of wellbeing.

3rd Symphony

The third symphony has only two movements. It is incomplete, but that is intentional. By the time I began writing the first movement I was in so much discomfort that I found it impossible to concentrate or sit still. Despite that, I wrote what I consider to be one of my favourite movements - the 1st Movement.

1st Movement (Listen to the first movement here)

It begins with a solemn Canon (at a minor 3rd below) between the lower strings and the horns. This is followed by a poignant four bar phrase in the woodwind. Much of the movement is based on the material contained in these two statements. The allegro theme is a diminution (in rhythm) of the first four notes of the canon. After an eventful transition passage containing some tricky syncopations the second group of themes is arrived at - an extensive song like, parlando passage initially for the woodwind but eventually taken up by the whole orchestra. The development section re-works many of the ideas heard previously, including an angst ridden version of the canon in the violins in an atonal version. The recapitulation gives the illusion of being in F major but it is simply a paradox created by the combination of the voices and intervals of the canon. The recapitulation contains some further development before arriving at the coda. The coda is big scale and eventful. Towards the end, solid brass chords are pitted against an obsessive ostinato in the rest of the orchestra.

2nd Movement (Unanswered Prayer)(Listen to the second movement here)

By the time I came to write the second movement, I had been referred to two different hospitals, seen numerous doctors and undergone endless tests to find out the cause of my hideous discomfort - all to no avail! The last straw came when I was in too much pain to remain in a healing service at my local church. I felt truly abandoned and without hope. This movement reflects the isolation and loneliness of praying for something and not being heard. The movement was written in its entirety within a week.

The initial idea is presented over a pedal note (C#). This gives way to a plaintive flute melody over a simple ostinato in the strings. The crux of the movement happens at 1 min 35 secs (refer to recording). A five note motif is heard in the wind (knocking on God's door). This is followed by voice leading polyphony in the bassoons and clarinets (praying). The music becomes more desperate and impassioned, but there is no reply. After a short and dramatic general pause, the music finds itself back where it started - the beginning of the movement. This time the music moves to new levels of solitude leaving one to conclude that some people are truly alone in this world. It represents the lost - a statement of recognition for the forgotten and abandoned.

The third symphony will never be completed. 

4th Symphony

I really believed that every symphony from the third onwards would be my last. The fourth symphony is in three movements and it represents a turning point in my attitude towards approaching the future. Musically, there is a drive towards unity across the movements - more so then in the previous three symphonies.

 

Ist Movement(Listen to the first movement here)

The opening bars are serious and somewhat discordant. The falling three note motif (trumpet in bar 1) becomes the main idea of the allegro and it is accompanied by a two note ostinato in the violins, to the rhythm 3+3+2. There is a transition theme (presented initially by the woodwind, followed by the strings) which transforms into the second group of themes. The two note ostinato is maintained (now in regular time) as an accompaniment. A codetta theme in the woodwind with a countermelody in the cellos rounds off the exposition. The development section is dramatic and eventful. Despite the occasional darker moment, the mood of the first movement is predominantly up-beat and ebullient. After a standard recapitulation the movement concludes with a short and quiet coda.

2nd Movement (Listen to the second movement here)

The 2nd movement plays a pivotal role in the symphony. It begins with a gentle, falling two note motif in the brass followed by a cantabile melody in the violins. The first bassoon plays the same melody as a canon at the 2nd, three quavers behind. A bolder melody (in the dominant) played by the trumpets flowers into a romantic climax before the music subsides into older 'unwelcome' material from the 3rd symphony - the five note motif from the 2nd movement! Fortunately, this is transformed into a ray of hope. The overall structure of the movement is ternary - ABA. The central section is faster and is a quasi scherzo. After a huge climax, the wind have a contemplative dialogue before effecting a return to the A section. The recapitulation of the opening bars now has figurations from the central section worked into the texture. The coda is an intimate reinterpretation of the initial ideas of the movement.

The extensive coda of the last movement is based on several motifs from the second movement.

3rd Movement (Listen to the third movement here) 

There are a couple of significant ideas in the first group of themes. A dotted rhythm march-like theme (1a) anounced by the woodwind and a second theme announced by the trumpet (1b). Part of the second idea morphs into the 2nd group of themes which is in the key of D. There is also a second half to this group - a more expansive melody played by the flute (2b), followed by the oboe over a simple string accompaniment. There is a lot of thematic development and transformation in the central section including a rhythmic augmentation of themes 1b and 2b which are combined in counterpoint. The recapitulation follows its natural course until shortly before the coda. After a G.P. the strings play a thoughtful, reflective and slower version of theme 1a. A large scale coda ensues, using at least four of the ideas from the second movement. The ostinato from the first movement makes a brief appearance and there is even a reference (harmonically) to the opening and closing chords of symphony no. 1. That is because I genuinely thought that this symphony would be my last! The final Maestoso closes the movement in a blaze of glory, starting with a brass fanfare. A tranformed version of theme 2b played by four horns dominates the closing bars before an emphatic four chord progression finishes the job.

5th Symphony (Listen to the first movement here)

The fifth symphony continues my quest to develop the concept of greater thematic integration. The introduction is longer and contains a number of motivic cells that will be transformed in this movement and in the 4th movement. The introduction is in two parts - a lyrical section (1a) and an energetic rhythmic section (1b) which contains the slightest of references to the opening of Beethoven's 5th symphony! By the 20th bar, the movement gets underway with a transformation of the lyrical theme 1a (in the woodwind) and the inclusion of the rhythmic idea (1b) in the strings. The second group of themes is also in two parts. The second half (2b) is a lyrical transformation of the rhythmic cell (1b) and these four notes become an important feature of the movement. There is a wide ranging development section where all the ideas are revisited in a different light, including 2a. The recapitulation is a huge and powerful reassertion of the lyrical theme (1a) in triumphant and defiant mood. The recapitulation follows its natural course but there is a substantial coda which distills the essence of the first movement.

2nd Movement (Listen to the second movement here)

This movement is in Ternary form, (ABA). There are two principal ideas in the A section - a long-breathed melody for flute and violins over a waltz accompaniment and a complimentary, parlando passage shared between the woodwind and the strings. The first tune returns shortly before the B section, this time played by the oboe. The central section contains contrasting and new material. The music gathers pace and there is a huge climax. Following a loud but diminishing drumroll a more reflective version of the tune that opened the B section leads the music to a recapitulation. The return is marked 'con moto'. This time it has a countermelody in the 2nd violins. The original course of the music is adapted to provide an exciting coda to the piece. The music gathers pace and volume and ends emphatically in Bb major, despite some discords in the brass.

3rd Movement (Scherzo) (Listen to the Scherzo here)

The scherzo part of this ABA structure is fast and furious. Initially the music finds itself in the key of F minor and it is not until a transition passage takes the music to G minor that the overall key of the movement is established. The second idea is a fairly frenetic fugato which eventually runs out of steam as it approaches the slower trio section. The initial idea for the trio is announced in the dying bars of the scherzo by the timpani (marked ff). As the music progresses, only flutes and clarinets remain. Their dialogue is a heartfelt statement of tranquility. Via a short bridge, the music revisits the 2nd movement (1st idea) over a pedal A, whilst the clarinets play a descending ostinato which creates a false relation with the string accompaniment. Another short bridge takes the music back to the Scherzo. Almost an exact repeat, the end is modified to give a rousing finale. Over rushing scales, the woodwind play the three note motif that announced the Trio, whilst the brass try to nail down the tonic with one exception - the discord in the penultimate bar!

4th Movement (Listen to the fourth movement here)

The movement begins with a purposeful march. The opening four bar texture in the strings and lower woodwind later becomes very important in the coda. A bridge passage moves the key to Bb major where there is an expansive melody. The build up to this moment is longer than the climax itself. The development section covers a lot of ground and there is a particularly large tutti in the middle. There is time for some reflective passages before the dominant pedal heralds the return of the march-like theme. After what amounts to a fairly standard recapitulation there is a coda on a big scale. It begins with a fugue subject over the march-like accompaniment. The fugue subject shares melodic shapes and rhythmic patterns heard previously and its upbeat tempo propels the music forward as more and more instruments join the party. The fugue continues whilst the brass, then woodwind restate the introduction to the 1st movement. Just as the harmonic tension reaches its climax the fugue begins to dissipate. After a brief fermata, elements of the march theme resurrect themselves and their final destination is never in doubt, despite the strident, discordant voices in the brass trying to derail the outcome.

6th Symphony 

And so to the 6th Symphony. I had some unfinished business to attend to with regard to my illness, faith and my understanding of life and death. I decided to set Shakespeare's 'Fear no more the heat of the Sun' for SATB and orchestra in the third and final movement of this symphony.

1st Movement (Listen to the first movement here)

As with all my previous symphonies, the opening bars contain the essence of the work. The struggle is evident from the sinuous counterpoint and and dotted rhythms of the first few measures. The ensuing allegro maestoso is a driven affair containing  a powerful tutti that has a sweeping melody, accompanied by a rhythmic counterpoint in the woodwind. The second group of themes is no less urgent and it too erupts in conquering mood, blazing out a confident melody in the strings, followed a bar later by an imitation in the horns. After a surprise modulation to G major, the music is temporarily calm. However, the tension builds and it isn't long before there is another defiant outburst. Eventually the music settles down for a longer stretch of reflective tranquility. The recapitulation is yet another outcry of anguish but it too subsides and the music follows its natural course towards the end of the movement. A coda of two halves closes out the eventful first movement.

2nd Movement (Listen to the second movement here)

Characterised by a solo cello, the first eleven bars spin out a melody which is taken up by the orchestral strings. (Part of the solo cello melody becomes part of the rondo theme in the last movement). There is a secondary theme in G major presented by the oboe at a slightly faster tempo. The central section of the movement is much more eventful, bursting onto the scene from the outset. There are some raucous interjections from the trumpets which create false relations with the rest of the orchestra. The music gathers pace and the full force of the orchestra is felt as the music approaches a colossal cadence into the key of C. There is now some respite from all this upheaval as two of the motifs from the solo cellists's melody are explored simultaneously by the woodwind whilst a slow, crotchet, harmonic pulse is provided by the strings. After one more climax the music wends its way back to the opening idea of the movement. The recapitulation is slightly modified to ensure that the music returns to the original key of the movement. The solo cello has the last word.

3rd Movement (Listen to the third movement here)

The third movement is a summation of all that has gone before, both thematically and programmatically. It is a reassertion of self-determination, an exorcism of the circular thoughts that have driven my illness and a reality check on the effectiveness of religion. Shakespeare's 'Fear no more the heat of the Sun' presents death as a practical release from everyday worries. Rather than a defeat, it is a triumph over death.

The structure of the first half of this movement is a Rondo: A,B,A,C,A. The rondo theme itself has the outline melodic shape of the opening theme of the first movement and it also contains an important melodic cell from the solo cellist's theme from the slow movement. When the choir enters for the first time it is with a motif that was introduced in the bars leading up to their a cappella opening statement. Whilst the poem (a song from Cymbeline) is to a large extent through composed, the words 'come to dust' are always set to the same four note falling motif. Much of the text is set to melodic shapes and ideas introduced earlier in the movement. e.g. 'Thou thy worldly task hast done' is set to the transition theme between A and B. 'Home art gone and ta'en thy wages' comes from C, as does 'Golden lads and girls all must, As chimney sweepers etc.' and 'Fear no more the lightning flash'. The last stanza 'No exorciser harm thee' is intoned over a fragmented version of the opening bars of the first movement, over a tonic pedal. The choir sings  almost totally a cappella (bar one bassoon) the words 'Quiet consumation have; And renowned be thy grave' before the ritornello theme that introduced the choir winds the music up into a triumphant finale. The last words from the choir are: 'Fear no more, And renowned be thy grave'. During the pandemic I felt a particular urgency to complete this work. It was finished on the 16th April 2020.

Words by William Shakespeare

Fear no more the heat o’ the sun,

Nor the furious winter’s rages;

Thou thy worldly task hast done,

Home art gone, and ta’en thy wages:

Golden lads and girls all must,

As chimney-sweepers, come to dust.

Fear no more the frown o’ the great;

Thou art past the tyrant’s stroke;

Care no more to clothe and eat;

To thee the reed is as the oak:

The scepter, learning, physic, must

All follow this, and come to dust.

Fear no more the lightning flash,

Nor the all-dreaded thunder stone;

Fear not slander, censure rash;

Thou hast finished joy and moan:

All lovers young, all lovers must

Consign to thee, and come to dust.

No exorciser harm thee!

Nor no witchcraft charm thee!

Ghost unlaid forbear thee!

Nothing ill come near thee!

Quiet consummation have;

And renownèd be thy grave!

Symphony no 7 

The seventh symphony completes my cycle of symphonies. This one really is the last! In fact, when I composed the opening bars I believed that I was going to write a symphonic poem based on the King Arthur legends. Somehow, I got side-tracked and the seventh was born. After all the issues of the previous six symphonies, the seventh is a celebration of me finding my voice again. It was written between November 2020 and February 4th 2021.

1st Movement (Listen to the first movement here) 

The music gets straight to the point. Over a dramatic timpani roll the brass announce a motif characterised by a scotch snap rhythm (1a). The introduction is in two parts - the wind dominating the livelier second section (1b), before the movement gets underway with a broad tutti notable for its three-note falling motif (the last three notes of the opening brass fanfare). This idea is developed somewhat during the transition passage, before the cantabile second group (2a) is arrived at in the tertiary key of Eb. A secondary idea announced by the woodwind (2b) introduces a more plaintive theme which leads to a reflective codetta. The scotch snap rhythm is heard gently beating in the background. The central section powers its way forward until a new, fanfare like passage in the brass is introduced. The music builds through another tutti before arriving at a thematic transformation (augmentation) of 1a. The scotch snap idea (now in the bassoon) leads to a dominant preparation and a tumultuous return of the opening. After the recapitulation, the coda returns the music to B minor and themes 1a and 2a are combined contrapuntally in a tranquil reflection of what has gone before.

Themes 1a and 2a return with considerable impact in the coda of the last movement.

2nd Movement (Listen to the second movement here)

This movement begins in a sombre mood. After a seven bar introduction a plaintive melody is presented by the woodwind (1a), then by the strings. Following a tutti, a gentle and rather lonely melody (2a) is announced by the strings which contains a falling figuration in the violas. There is a dramatic outburst by the whole orchestra before the music calms down and begins an exploration of the second half of the introductory idea. The brass join in before the music moves through unexpected harmonies before settling in the key of D. Woodwind solos quickly lead to a massive climax based on the second half of the introductory theme (itself rather similar to the falling motive in the opening tutti of the first movement). Theme 2a now returns in a radiant transformation - triumphant and confident. This passage concludes with a three chord brass progression which later, is incorporated into the first tutti of the last movement. Following a recapitulation, the movement concludes with a thoughtful coda featuring elements of theme 1a, accompanied initially by a countermelody in the horns and then by static chords in the wind and strings. The wind solos that conclude the movement are memorable for their harmonisations and the false relation created between the oboe and the strings.

3rd Movement (Scherzo) (Listen to the Scherzo here)

The Schezo begins in the key of G with a three note falling motif. It quickly moves to E minor where a second idea is presented by the woodwind over an ostinato in the violas. The three note motif returns as a fugato between the first violins and the cellos. More instruments enter the fray including the timpani which provides a rhythmic ostinato on a pedal A. The music builds to an intoxicating and joyous climax in the key of G to end the first section. The Trio begins with the strings playing a thematically transformed version of  the 'motto theme' first heard at the start of the first movement. Further references to the first movement follow in the woodwind before the strings play an uplifting version of the opening of the slow movement. In a radiant A major, this 'spring like' hope has a short flowering before returning to a more serious version of the first Trio theme. Following this, an augmented version of the three note motif is heard over the strings who play a tranquil version of part of theme 2a from the slow movement. The return to the Scherzo is understated, but any lingering doubts from the Trio are brushed aside by the upbeat tempo. The Scherzo runs its course and is rounded off by a handful of bravura bars. 

4th Movement (Listen to the 4th movement here)

The last movement begins in a restless, agitated mood. From the outset the goal is the final destination.The textures are bustling and energetic and the first full tutti has a real sense of purpose. There are several facets to the tutti theme, all of which get developed in due course. The transition sections are turbulent, discordant and impatient. Eventually a contrasting theme appears in the key of E accompanied by an undulating arpeggio-like countermelody. Every idea in the exposition is dissected and refashioned in the development section. In addition, there is a fairly extensive fugal passage (based on two of the exposition themes) for the woodwind section. This runs seamlessly into an orchestral climax before dispersing into a romantic augmentation of the opening melody, accompanied by horns and bassoons. The half speed concept is applied to the first tutti theme before the music moves to an eerie passage over a dominant pedal note. The recapitulation takes place almost unnoticed and the music begins to unfold as before, except that the transition theme is slightly extended to effect the necessary key change. Towards the end of the movement, a coda of two halves firstly summarises the events that have taken place in this movement; followed by a glorious consummation of not only reaching the end of this symphony, but the end of the seven work cycle. For me, it is a triumph over adversity. The opening theme of the first movement is a tortured and tormented spirit. In the coda, the same theme is transformed into a life affirming winner.

Summary

Symphony no. 1   A response to the loss of a loved one

Symphony no. 2   Enjoyment and a sense of well being

Symphony no. 3.  Being struck down by ill-health and a crisis in faith

Symphony no. 4.  Finding a way forward

Symphony no. 5   Making progress

Symphony no. 6   Self determination

Symphony no. 7   Triumph over adversity

 

 

 

 

 

© 2021 Stephen Scotchmer
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