Symphonic Movements for orchestra (2008)
The Symphonic Movements is a three-movement work scored for a standard symphony orchestra. The first movement starts with tubular bells, a vibraphone, harp and a solo violin. The percussive sound of the first three instruments is sustained by the violin harmonic, which carries over to the string sections, and starts off the piece like a wave of sound. It is not until the second time when the winds announce the first theme again that the sound becomes more solid. When the brass joins in, they work towards the first climax, where the Bb bass finally resolves to an Eb; however, due to its diminished quality, the tension has not yet been resolved.
Followed by an arrival of Ab major tonality, the energy and tension temporarily die away in this calm and reflective middle section, where various instruments play the rhythmic motive of the first theme. This section then slowly leads us to a second climax. After a brief timpani solo, the same instruments announce the return of the beginning wave of sound with the first theme’s absence. After an altered and more chromatic restatement of the second climax material, this movement finally ends on an answering Eb major chord.
The second movement is a meditative movement. It starts off with a large gong that passes off its sound to the string section. The entire piece is dominated by suspensions of different kinds. Sometimes, they are resolved, while many times they are not. With the almost always present perfect 5th pedal with violin II pizzicato and harp, the piece is static and evolving at the same time. I think of this movement as a huge hairpin that stretches over seven minutes, and when the wind and brass sections join in, the climatic effect is profound. After huge tutti climaxes, the suspended string sound comes back, and ends the movement with open-strings pizzicati. This movement conveys a feeling of large space and breath. The almost obsessive perfect 5th pedal, highly influenced by Maurice Ravel’s Le Gibet, is not explained until the next movement.
After the second movement, which is essentially an interlude, the third movement is really a continuation of the first movement, for it starts like how it ended. Nonetheless, we are in an entirely new key – the suspended key from the second movement. After all these questionings, the apparent suspended notes are indeed anticipations. This last movement uses primarily motivic materials from the first movement, and it is very episodic. The rather melodic and soloistic materials in the middle section showcase how the instruments pass long melodies within the orchestra and how they connect their breaths and phrases. A string trio is used here to achieve a chamber effect.
This middle section is embodied by two large and elaborated fugal sections that feature primarily the triplet motive. With occasional meter changes, the fugal sections provide us unlimited energy that is to end the entire piece brilliantly in Eb with the “suspended” notes as extensions to the chord.
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