Broadheath Music

Contemporary Classical Music by Frank Wilhoit

Symphony No. 7, Op. 40 (Sinfonia quasi una fantasia) (2021-22)

This symphony was composed between May 2021 and February 2022. The subtitle Sinfonia quasi una fantasia is adapted from Beethoven's two piano sonatas, Op. 27, published in 1801, which embody formal and rhetorical experiments that, at this early date, he evidently felt a need to disclaim. Eleven years and thirteen sonatas later, when he published the E-minor sonata, Op. 90, there was no longer any question of signposting, let alone apology, for experiments even further-reaching.

The symphony is inherently a conservative genre, but, at a time when many norms (not only musical ones) have gone by the board, this work's subtitle is not an apology but a signpost, advising the listener to calibrate their expectations for the handling of thematic material and form.

Like a fantasy, the work is continuous but sectional. Three "movements" could be identified: (I) a moderately-fast sonata (~10 minutes), (II) a slow movement in the same kind of meta-sonata (~8 minutes), (III) a finale whose tempo gradually doubles from beginning to end (~10 minutes). A handful of motives presented at the start of the symphony and everything thereafter is derived from them, but the derivations are not as gradual, methodical, and signposted as they would be in the works of the composers of the Viennes Classical tradition (approximately Mozart through Brahms). They are more "fantastic", tenuous, tangential, and the newly-transformed ideas are presented in an increasingly episodic manner.

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