Symphony No. 8

Peter Mennin

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Publisher: Carl Fischer Music
Print Status: Rental

Quick Overview

The Eighth Symphony, completed late in 1973, is in sharp contrast to the Seventh Symphony (performed at these concerts in 1965 by the late George Szell), which is in one movement. The new work is in four separate movements yet connected with an underlying musical idea. Whereas the Seventh Symphony was an extensive symphonic essay based on one large idea and conception that was severe in mood and highly unified in structure and technical makeup, the thrust of the Eighth Symphony has a diversity and contrast of musical ideas and of moods, texture, and instrumental relationships, not only between movements, but also within them. The musical vocabulary itself has expanded considerably with certain new dramatic and tone-configuration elements.
Each of the four movements was stimulated emotionally by Biblical texts. These emotional-musical reactions are not programmatic in nature. On the contrary, each movement is a personal musical response that unfolds along purely musical lines. The texts allied to each of the movements are:
I. In the beginning.... Genesis (In principio ....)
II. Day of wrath Zephaniah (Dies Irae?)
III. Out of the depths . . .Psalm 130 (De Pro-fundis Clamavi .. )
IV. Praise ye the Lord ..Psalm 150 (Laudate Dominum ...)
I. Sostenuto. The Symphony opens with slow suspended sonorities based on grouping of notes which later unfold melodically. In its gradual exposition there is a feeling of suspension of meter which basically characterizes this movement. The interplay of thematic sonorities and textures develops and the musical ideas are proclaimed in various orchestral settings. The movement ends with a new feeling of the suspension of meter as it began.
II. Allegro con moto. The movement contains strong contrasts of clearly defined musical ideas, from the opening virtuosic flourish in the strings, to the concluding, fanciful close. Much use of the percussion section is made, along with orchestral outbursts based on clearly defined musical motifs developed antiphonally a linerally.
III. Adagio. This movement displays the composer's abiding interest in the long, singing melodic line. The purpose in this section is direct and simple: to sing out its ideas expressively and clearly. The melodic lines and sonorities are contrasting transmutations from the opening movement.
IV. Allegro vivace. Though the Finale introduces several transformed motivic fragments from earlier movements, the effect of suspension of time-element is presented in a more dramatic way than in the opening movement. New musical ideas are introduced and emphasized in the brass section, making highly virtuoso demands of each player. There follows a gradual gathering of musical ideas and forces which develop to a climactic conclusion.
The Symphony is scored for 3 flutes (piccolo), 2 oboes, English horn, 2 clarinets, bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, contra-bassoon, 4 horns, 4 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, large percussion section and string choir.

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Scores & Parts

Symphony No.8 - Score - Performance

Additional Information

Composition Date 1973
Duration 00:26:00
Orchestration 3(Fl.3 dbl. Picc.) 3(E.H.) 3(B.Cl.) 2(Cbsn.) - 4 3 3 1; Timp. 4Perc. Str.
Premiere November 21, 1974.Daniel Barenboim conducting the New York Philharmonic.

Details

I. In the beginning.... Genesis (In principio ....)
II. Day of wrath Zephaniah (Dies Irae?)
III. Out of the depths . . .Psalm 130 (De Pro-fundis Clamavi ..)
IV. Praise ye the Lord ..Psalm 150 (Laudate Dominum ...)