Author Topic: Symphony no.4 (Symphony for strings)  (Read 55 times)

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Michel.R.E

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Symphony no.4 (Symphony for strings)
« on: August 13, 2019, 10:14:03 AM »
This work was actually premiered around 4 years ago, but by a student group who had commissioned it.
I've wanted to "adultify" it ever since. Some of the instrumental parts were simply too easy.

This also gave me the chance to rework some of the harmony and counterpoint in certain spots, as well as the tempos which were far too slow in the original version. The violas and cellos now get a bit more music to play, and the doublebass part is considerably more demanding (and better integrated into the overall texture).

I've also completely rewritten the ending of the last movement, as well as changed the harmony of the final measures of the 1st movement.

For those who don't know this work, it's a two-movement symphony, each movement divided into distinct internal sections.
The first movement, "Cantos", starts with rising 4ths, which will be the main motivic material for the symphony. This is followed by a rapid waltz which develops this rising 4th motif. This is followed by a fugal statement in a slightly slower tempo, in 4/4.
The opening measures repeat at the end of this section, though with fuller harmony, a louder dynamic, and more overlapping of parts. The last section of the 1st movement closes out with a canonic take on the main theme, and includes one of the doublebass "improvements".

The second movement of the symphony, "Toccata", opens with an aggressive statement of the main theme with some slightly modified intervals (in this movement instances of 4ths in previous iterations of the theme return now as 3rds and 6ths).
Apart the slower introduction, the Toccata movement is by and large a Rondo. The ritournello is broken up with first a cadenza-like passage for the 1st and 2nd violins with violas, then a pizzicato section that is primarily played by the violas, celli and basses.
The coda is a driving ostinato based on the main theme.

I think I should also mention that this is in my more "austere" style. Judging from audience reaction at the premiere it sems to be a more difficult work for people to relate to.

Cantos

Toccata
« Last Edit: August 13, 2019, 01:24:23 PM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

whitebark

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Re: Symphony no.4 (Symphony for strings)
« Reply #1 on: August 14, 2019, 10:52:45 AM »
I haven't heard the earlier version of the symphony, but your new version sounds great! I'm sure the bass players will appreciate the big melodic moment at the end of the first movement. There are some high notes there, but they look manageable.  I glanced through the score and didn't see any obvious mistakes.

Jay

Michel.R.E

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Re: Symphony no.4 (Symphony for strings)
« Reply #2 on: August 14, 2019, 10:59:17 AM »
Thanks Jay.
I actually had to correct a few errors that I found in the score/parts, this morning (there were some beams which, for some mysterious reason, had disappeared from a set of 8th notes).

I obsess with giving musicians something that they will enjoy playing. I was watching the contrabass player last night at the concert, and he really seemed to be enjoying himself, a huge grin on his face.. but to my ear, the bass part was as dull as dishwater. It was just repeated notes laying out the harmonic bass. No scalar runs, no arpeggios, no interesting melodic contours. Yet talking to him afterward, he said he still enjoyed it. He said that sometimes knowing that you're the base upon which the rest of the harmony rests can be very satisfying.
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"

whitebark

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Re: Symphony no.4 (Symphony for strings)
« Reply #3 on: August 14, 2019, 05:41:58 PM »
And thanks for notating the high bass part in treble clef  :)  I don't like reading tenor clef for no good reason other than I'm not used to it.

I would hardly call this music "austere", it is passionate and at times lively. Though using modern techniques such as polychords and quartal harmony ( I think) , the music is accessible. The last movement is downright fun at times, especially the rhythmic section at 1:20 and the tutti pizzicato section at 4:20. And there is a nice simple major chord at the end. The audience has got to like that  :)

In no way does the piece sound like a simplified work designed for a student orchestra.

The recording sounds good - what software did you use to create it?

Jay
« Last Edit: August 14, 2019, 05:50:29 PM by whitebark »

Michel.R.E

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Re: Symphony no.4 (Symphony for strings)
« Reply #4 on: August 14, 2019, 06:38:51 PM »
thank-you again, Jay.

I particularly like the pizz section too :-)

That's just Finale with the strings from Noteperformer3.
I do really prefer the smoothness of the Garritan strings, however, but the NP3 ones sort of grow on you with time.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2019, 01:11:28 PM by Michel.R.E »
"Writing music to be revolutionary is like cooking to be famous: Music’s main function is not revolution. – Alan Belkin "

"Saying something new about something old is still saying something new. – Jamie Kowalski"