• Giles Swayne
  • Symphony for Small Orchestra (1984)

  • Novello & Co Ltd (World)

Commissioned by the English Chamber Orchestra

  • 1202(cbn)2000str
  • 25 min

Programme Note

Giles Swayne: Symphony For Small Orchestra Op. 37 (1984)


During the early '80s I became increasingly concerned about the remoteness, complexity, and general irrelevance of much contemporary music, and began experimenting with the use of a radically simplified language. This piece, which was first performed at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in June 1984, is in one continuous movement, and lasts about 24 minutes. It is scored for flute, two oboes, two bassoons, two horns and strings, with important solo parts for principal violin, viola and cello. The piece avoids all chromatic dissonance, and lies almost throughout in a modal A minor. Rhythmically it is both simple and elaborate - simple in that the pulse never alters, and there are almost no values other than crotchets and quavers, but complex because the patterns formed from these units are constantly shifting in length, and frequently superimposed upon each other.

As a result, although the score looks childishly easy to play, it is quite tricky to get together.
© Giles Swayne 1995

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