The twelve symphonies

Please see also the page about the philosophy behind the twelve symphonies

 

Symphony No 1 in C (Scandinavian) (180801)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

Two or three years ago I had a busy week where the recorder orchestra of which I am a member, EROS, had a rehearsal on one of Dietrich Schnabel's Read more ...
1 - Adagio

Symphony No 1 in C (Scandinavian)

1 - Adagio

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2 - Scherzo

Symphony No 1 in C (Scandinavian)

2 - Scherzo

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3 - Cortege

Symphony No 1 in C (Scandinavian)

3 - Cortege

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4 - Finale

Symphony No 1 in C (Scandinavian)

4 - Finale

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Two or three years ago I had a busy week where the recorder orchestra of which I am a member, EROS, had a rehearsal on one of Dietrich Schnabel's bigger pieces and I played in a performance of Sibelius 5th symphony on consecutive days. This got me to thinking about how Sibelius might have written if he was writing a symphony for recorder orchestra and giving recorder players the exciting experience of playing in conventional symphonic forms. Given that I spent a couple of years working in Scandinavia, Iceland in fact I could not resist drawing on the experience and so all of these influences came together in this work. I sent the score to Dietrich and he invited me to Bietigheim for the premier of the work and when we met we became firm friends.

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Symphony No 2 in A minor (180802)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

After the success of the first symphony it occurred to me to use the same idea with other times and styles of music and in this symphony I drew on Read more ...
1 - Allegro Moderato

Symphony No 2 in A minor

1 - Allegro Moderato

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2 - Adagietto

Symphony No 2 in A minor

2 - Adagietto

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3 - Laendler

Symphony No 2 in A minor

3 - Laendler

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4 - Finale

Symphony No 2 in A minor

4 - Finale

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After the success of the first symphony it occurred to me to use the same idea with other times and styles of music and in this symphony I drew on my experiences in Austria both alpine and Vienna and so put myself in the position of Mahler faced with a recorder orchestra. Naturally this symphony was dedicated to Dietrich whose advice do scoring for recorder orchestra and preparing scores for publication really lay the foundations for the rest of the cycle.

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Symphony No 3 in A minor (180803)
Sop, S, S. A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

This symphony also draws on a trip to Vienna. But this is a different Austria to that of the 2nd Symphony. This Read more ...
1 - Allegro

Symphony No 3 in A minor

1 - Allegro

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2 - Andante

Symphony No 3 in A minor

2 - Andante

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3 - Scherzo

Symphony No 3 in A minor

3 - Scherzo

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4 - Finale

Symphony No 3 in A minor

4 - Finale

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This symphony also draws on a trip to Vienna. But this is a different Austria to that of the 2nd Symphony. This symphony relates to the early nineteenth century and the world of Schubert. Of bitter sweet harmonies and romantic melodies framed within well defined classical forms but prepared to break out of them when an emotional point is to be made. I had one or two very encouraging conversations on the phone with Eileen Silcocks while I was writing this symphony. I never actually met her but I was at a point near the end of the second movement , which will be obvious to the listener on hearing it, when I heard of her death. And so this symphony is dedicated to her memory as my acknowledgment of what she did for the recorder orchestra.

There is a performance of this symphony - please click here.

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Symphony No 4 in A minor (180804)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

After the Biedermeier like intimacy of the  third symphony this work celebrates a very different world of mid nineteenth century North Germany. Read more ...
1 - Allegro

Symphony No 4 in A minor

1 - Allegro

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2 - Romanza

Symphony No 4 in A minor

2 - Romanza

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3 - Scherzo

Symphony No 4 in A minor

3 - Scherzo

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4 - Adagio - Allegro

Symphony No 4 in A minor

4 - Adagio - Allegro

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After the Biedermeier like intimacy of the  third symphony this work celebrates a very different world of mid nineteenth century North Germany. the world of Brahms. I lived for twenty years in the land of Niedersachsen and one of the abiding pictures I have in mind is that of vast forests with mists rising round the mellow colours of autumnal leaves and it is this world from which this piece stems. And in the spirit of Brahms strict observance of form is the structure which allows the humanity of this piece to display itself.

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Symphony No 5 in G minor (180805)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

During a trip to what was then Leningrad I was lucky enough to see some fabulous palaces. Memories like these abide Read more ...
1 - Andante Lugubrioso - Andantino

Symphony No 5 in G minor

1 - Andante Lugubrioso - Andantino

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2 - Nocturne

Symphony No 5 in G minor

2 - Nocturne

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3 - Scherzo

Symphony No 5 in G minor

3 - Scherzo

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4 - Finale

Symphony No 5 in G minor

4 - Finale

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During a trip to what was then Leningrad I was lucky enough to see some fabulous palaces. Memories like these abide and when combined with a great deal of love and respect for the music of Tchaikovsky this symphony is the result.

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Symphony No 6 in D minor (180806)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

In the second symphony I considered the human response to Mahler and nature. This piece is more concerned with Read more ...
1 - Andantino

Symphony No 6 in D minor

1 - Andantino

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2 - Adagio

Symphony No 6 in D minor

2 - Adagio

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3 - Scherzo

Symphony No 6 in D minor

3 - Scherzo

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4 - Andante - Allegro

Symphony No 6 in D minor

4 - Andante - Allegro

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In the second symphony I considered the human response to Mahler and nature. This piece is more concerned with spirituality and an awareness of the fragility of man when faced with natural majesty. In many ways we enter the world of Bruckner with the big difference that he was so sure in his faith and I can only leave a very big question mark! Yet one can only aspire to his vision and humility.

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Symphony No 7 in D major (180807)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

England in the early twentieth century was a fascinating mix of imperial pride and reflection with glory fading Read more ...
1 - Nobilmente - Allegretto

Symphony No 7 in D major

1 - Nobilmente - Allegretto

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2 - Scherzo - Serenade

Symphony No 7 in D major

2 - Scherzo - Serenade

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3 - Elegy

Symphony No 7 in D major

3 - Elegy

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4 - March

Symphony No 7 in D major

4 - March

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England in the early twentieth century was a fascinating mix of imperial pride and reflection with glory fading just round the corner. In this symphony I enter the world of Elgar and try to put into musical terms these complex stirrings.

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Symphony No 8 in C major (180808)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

This symphony is strange in that it reflects ideas of middle class taste in both Germany and England in he mid Read more ...
1 - Allegro Giocoso

Symphony No 8 in C major

1 - Allegro Giocoso

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2 - Romanza

Symphony No 8 in C major

2 - Romanza

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3 - Scherzo

Symphony No 8 in C major

3 - Scherzo

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4 - Allegro Giocoso

Symphony No 8 in C major

4 - Allegro Giocoso

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This symphony is strange in that it reflects ideas of middle class taste in both Germany and England in he mid nineteenth century and inevitably enters the world of Mendelssohn.

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Symphony No 9 in F major (180809)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

In this piece I enter the world of Dvořák and try to represent both his old world and new world experience. Read more ...
1 - Allegro

Symphony No 9 in F major

1 - Allegro

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2 - Largo Piacevolo

Symphony No 9 in F major

2 - Largo Piacevolo

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3 - Furiante

Symphony No 9 in F major

3 - Furiante

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4 - Allegro Giocoso

Symphony No 9 in F major

4 - Allegro Giocoso

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In this piece I enter the world of Dvořák and try to represent both his old world and new world experience.

 

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Symphony No 10 in D minor (180810)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

The genealogy of one side of my family is tied to the soil for a very long time back through history and in the Read more ...
1 - Andante - Allegretto

Symphony No 10 in D minor

1 - Andante - Allegretto

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2 - Andante Cantabile

Symphony No 10 in D minor

2 - Andante Cantabile

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3 - March

Symphony No 10 in D minor

3 - March

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4 - Andante Pastorale - Allegretto

Symphony No 10 in D minor

4 - Andante Pastorale - Allegretto

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The genealogy of one side of my family is tied to the soil for a very long time back through history and in the piece I re enter in some ways my own history. Musically it is the world of. Vaughan Williams. Modal folk song type themes are modified to allow symphonic development. So this is a symphony of the ordinary country worker. This piece is dedicated to Pamela Smith as a thanks for her encouragement. And it is Pam who is conducting the piece on the performance tab.

There is a recording of a performance of this symphony - please click here

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Symphony No 11 in G minor (180811)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

As I was writing this cycle I became more and more aware that if was to have any pretension to being complete sooner or later I was going to have Read more ...
1 - Allegro

Symphony No 11 in G minor

1 - Allegro

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2 - Adagio

Symphony No 11 in G minor

2 - Adagio

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3 - Scherzo Atacca

Symphony No 11 in G minor

3 - Scherzo Atacca

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4 - Finale

Symphony No 11 in G minor

4 - Finale

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As I was writing this cycle I became more and more aware that if was to have any pretension to being complete sooner or later I was going to have to come to grips with two composers of whom I am frankly in awe, both as men and musicians. Beethoven is the first of these. Strangely enough the eleventh Symphony, visiting Vienna in the 1810s gave me relatively few problems and seemed almost to write itself. This symphony is dedicated with thanks to a lady who has always been a good friend offering sound advice and doing everything she can to promote my work. Moira Usher.

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Symphony No 12 in A minor (180812)
Sop, S, S, A, A, T, T, B, B, GtB, CtB

The other place which I was nervous of visiting was Leningrad in the first half of the twentieth century. The world Read more ...
1 - Adagio Mysterioso - Marcia

Symphony No 12 in A minor

1 - Adagio Mysterioso - Marcia

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2 - Andantino Malevolo

Symphony No 12 in A minor

2 - Andantino Malevolo

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3 - Waltz

Symphony No 12 in A minor

3 - Waltz

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4 - Allegro Nervoso

Symphony No 12 in A minor

4 - Allegro Nervoso

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The other place which I was nervous of visiting was Leningrad in the first half of the twentieth century. The world of Shostakovich. Having been their ‘before the wall came down’ I had seen just a little of the grimness of the old Soviet Union first hand. This piece, as is fitting was a struggle, particularly when faced with the self imposed limitations of the recorder orchestra. Themes of struggle and sadness permeate the piece and the motto theme which is played at the beginning which deliberately sets up a harmonic ambiguity which can be seen as unsettling and potential laden at the same time, recurs through the piece in different guises. When it closes the symphony it still does not really achieve any sort of victory but more the sense that what one cannot conquer one must learn to live with. And in some ways that is appropriate.

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