Symphony no.5 - Sea of Life - symphony orchestra 2019-21

duration 18 minutes

Unlike its predecessors this work runs in one continuous movement. It took as its starting point a painting by my late wife, the artist Marcelle Seabourne, called Sea of Life: a semi-abstract work depicting a turbulent seascape.

Begun in 2019 it was held in limbo, some four minutes in, for two years during my wife's terminal illness. Unsure whether to revive it, even if I could re-enter and complete it after such a long gap, it did indeed progress initially quite slowly. However, warming to the task it then flowed with some ease - perhaps the whole process in some way mirroring the essential concept. This was to be a work of great energy and movement with perhaps something of "The Inextinguishable" about it; reflecting my wife's unbreakable spirit in both her life and her art, as she succumbed only bodily to the cancer.

I wanted to create a less obvious structure, so the symphony is sectional rather than being simply "four joined movements in one". It opens boldly in great animation and surge - we are already at sea, buffeted by waves and wind - the voyage is underway. A more Mahlerian, lyrical section follows (akin to a second subject), but the flow is disrupted by an alla turca idea - not really a march but there is certainly something foreboding approaching. Further episodes follow from lightly bubbling to warmly summatory before the opening material returns. A slower-moving climax develops but the music abruptly turns a corner into a scurrying scherzo with occasional uncomfortable, though brief, encounters with the Turkish band. A great swell carries the music into a calmer, more contemplative waters. This gradually builds once more into a full bodied moment of arrival, but it is cut short as a rough-edged amalgamation of scherzo and turca returns, tumbling headlong into a final reprise of the very opening music and a glittering, exultant final invictus.

Scoring: Piccolo, 2 Flutes, 2 Oboes, Cor Anglais, 2 Clarinets, Bass Clarinet, 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon, 4 Horns, 2 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, Percussion (Triangle, Snare Drum, Bass Drum, Tubular Bells, Glockenspiel, Cymbals, Suspended Cymbal, Celeste, Tam-Tam), Harp, Piano, Strings



Computer generated recording ( apologies...)


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