dosblanc logoSymphony in C

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"Symphony in C" (Symphony #1) is dedicated in loving memory of my father, Robert H. Edward.

Nominally in a single extended movement, the Symphony in C is still clearly divided into 4 constituant parts: the opening Moderato, a scherzo, an adagio, and the final ricercare.

This work follows the extended development of a single thematic idea, which, as stated in the first minute of the symphony, will generate all of the subsequant melodic material. This initial statement is entrusted to the violas, in unison. They are gradually joined by the cello section and the double basses. The volume increases as the density and texture thicken, and rolling timpani prepare the grandiose entrance of the violins. Most of the symphony relies on changes in mood and texture rather than actual changes of thematic material to create contrast.

The tempo picks up slightly as the woodwinds, accompanied by scampering strings, repeat the chorale-like violin melody. Material gets tossed back and forth between the different choirs of the orchestra – woodwinds to strings to brass and back. The texture gradually thickens contrapuntally as well with fugal entrances and episodes.

The mood turns aggressive as the brass instruments dominate the orchestral texture and the tempo again speeds up. This faster section continues with a grand statement of the main theme in the violins, with fragmented material being tossed back and forth beneath by the brass, woodwinds and lower strings.

A solo cor-anglais and flute end the movement softly.

Follows a cadenza for flute solo, presenting the thematic fragments that will make up most of the upcoming scherzo 2nd movement. The mood turns rambunctious as the scherzo proper starts, with percussive outbursts and orchestral flurries, musical moods alternate between the opening playfullness and more introspective second material. Contra-basses and bassoons announce the Trio section, an extended fugue with episodes, which grows steadily to a dissonant climax that heralds the return of the scherzo material in reverse order.

The Adagio mesto 3rd movement presents the opening theme in a denuded fashion – as an exposed oboe solo over slowly pulsating strings. This rises to an inevitable climax and dives immediately into the Ricercare finale. This Ricercare takes the moods and textures of the symphony and replays them in reverse order in a sort of “rondo of fugal expositions”, the “refrain” of the rondo being a varied fugal statement of the opening motif. The symphony finishes on a grand chorale-like statement of one of the lesser-heard motifs from the first movement, an affirmative and hopeful ending to a symphony that has travelled such varied emotional paths.