Symphony no.6

symphony orchestra 2021-22

duration 24 minutes

Following a year after the 5th Symphony, its successor is again cast in one continuous span, though here of three distinct movements.

Although it is most emphatically an abstract piece, nevertheless much of its inspiration came from ideas conceived in forests whose sounds occasionally intrude. As a child growing up on a farm with seemingly infinite space and freedom, I often used to lie under trees and dream, listening to the wind in the leaves - a sound that still fills me with the deepest joy. In addition, after the death of my wife, the painter Marcelle Seabourne, I found in her studio a small semi-abstract painting which seemed to me to echo similar themes. So ideas from this fed into the composition of the symphony.

The first movement opens with a highly divisi-strings "wall", dense and "immense", coloured by a kind of gamelan or "distant bells" grouping of tuned percussion and various keyboards, and all partially obscured by a wind machine. From this emerge soaring melodic fragments, most characteristic of these on a high trumpet. Little by little the harmonies clear and there is more sense of coalesence. The pacing increases a little accompanied by murmuring eddies. A climax is reached, but is blown away by a sudden, but brief metallic gust of wind.

The second movement is fleet of foot, pinging around fragments of alternately dancing and strident bubblings. Tenser melodies intervene. At the central point the more forthright, repeated idea hammers away in cross-rhythms after which the music seems to need time to catch its breath. Earlier ideas return but the music gently subsides. Like the first, this movement also feels a second blast of cold air, though here less clangorous.

The final movement reworks material from the first - the static strings, far-away bells, the wind - but the melodic fragments now become more continous. A brief turbulence errupts using the first movement's eddying idea before the piece relaxes into a warm, autumnal glow, and then a soft ebbing into the distant haze.

In sum, I feel this to be generally a more reserved, reflective work than its five earlier forebears.

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, Xylophone, Suspended Cymbal, Celeste, Tam-Tam, Wind Machine), Harp, Piano, Strings (at least



Computer generated recording ( apologies...)


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