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

Full Score

Audio rendering

This symphony was composed in 2021 and first performed by the Bryn Athyn (PA) Orchestra on 21 May 2023.

The subtitle, Sinfonia quasi una fantasia, refers to the manner in which the thematic material develops and transforms, which is less syllogistic ("symphonic") and more spontaneous and impulsive ("fantastic").

The work is in three movements, played without pause. The first movement (Un poco maestoso -- Allegro non troppo, C minor, 3/2 -- 2/2) is in sonata form. The "introduction" (all of the analytical terminology has to be taken with salt) presents a handful of motives on which the entire work is based, including a theme played by the four horns. The music then accelerates somewhat, into what sounds like a "main body of the first movement" (trumpets). A "second theme" appears on the saxophones, and a "third theme" (woodwind) is syncopated and dance-like. The "development" and the "recapitulation" try (? expectably) to do each other's jobs; the return of the horn theme (in C) may as well be labelled as the beginning of the recap. The coda sounds like it is heading for an inappropriately "big finish", which would be a mistake, as it would foreclose the rest of the symphony, but it pulls its punch and substitutes a quieter and more ambiguous ending, which tips over into the...

...second movement (Andante quasi adagio, E minor, 2/2 -- 3/2), which is basically a slow dance interlude with occasional outbursts.

The third movement (Allegro non troppo e pòi sempre poco a poco stringendo al fine, D minor -- G major, 3/4) combines the responsibilities of a scherzo and a finale. Its tempo gradually and exactly doubles from beginning to end. Along the way, familiar and seemingly new themes develop and transform into each other in the "fantastic" mode. The destination key of G major is reached about five minutes before the end -- five minutes that are spent making it sound like home, retrospectively to the beginning of the symphony, when it was the first note heard, there behaving as the dominant of C minor.