Symphony No. 1 in C Minor, Op. 2b (Sinfonia Solenne)

Started by krummholz, May 31, 2022, 06:16:27 PM

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krummholz

I am pleased to present the fully orchestral version of my Sinfonia Solenne, which I'm now calling my Symphony No. 1 and giving the opus number 2b (the finished strings-only version I posted last week is now my Op. 2a). There are a few new elements here, most notably that the work opens with a soft timpani roll, as does the recurrence of the main fugue; and in 3 passages in the score there is a sparse, very quiet bass line given tentatively to the timpani (I don't know how quickly timpanists can retune - if it's unplayable as written i can rescore the parts where pitch is essential for double basses, pizzicato).

The work is scored for two flutes and a piccolo, two clarinets and a bass clarinet, two oboes, cor anglais, two F horns and two C trumpets (I call for a D6 which I don't think a B-flat trumpet can reach - but I could be wrong), bassoon and contrabasson, trombone, bass trombone, tuba, timpani, a string quartet, and standard strings including double basses. The string ensemble is in some places reduced to 2 or 3 players per section for a purer, more transparent sound, but I do not call for a separate "chamber strings" choir as I did in the strings-only version. The low brass are used VERY sparingly, as is the piccolo. Percussion is limited to the timpani; this is mostly a slightly expanded classical orchestra; I think the size is similar to what Robert Simpson used for several of his symphonies.

The rendering was done with Sibelius + NotePerformer using Concert Hall reverb level. I do not like that much reverb and think the sound in this version is a little on the muddy side, but since that's the only kind of hall this version could be performed in, I felt I had to go with it. There are places where the inner voices are obscured a little by the reverb, but others where the distinctive timbres helps to bring them out, so it might be a wash.

As always, feedback is welcome.

Never say final, I guess. After a disappointing rejection (see new post), I made a few "interpretive" changes to tempo, mostly subtle things. I think this version is a bit more convincing as a whole. I don't think there were any visible changes to the score, mostly "hidden" changes like the lengths of fermatas, things that you can only see in the Sibelius Inspector, but I'll post the latest version anyway.

Audio file: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1Xmq3QT2R6CXeOTQo_GoCqJgEmadXijeU/view?usp=sharing

Score used for rendering (tabloid format): https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qnmh6DmN-NkIW0PrHmx51hvfG7WlAKDr/view?usp=sharing

vandermolen

I enjoyed it. It reminded me at times of Mahler and Bruckner but in a modern tonal idiom. Peter Sculthorpe's 'Memento Mori' also came to mind.
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

krummholz

Quote from: vandermolen on June 01, 2022, 01:20:18 AM
I enjoyed it. It reminded me at times of Mahler and Bruckner but in a modern tonal idiom. Peter Sculthorpe's 'Memento Mori' also came to mind.

Thanks! Yes, there are a couple of Mahlerian angry snarls on the muted trumpet, a tip of the hat to Gustav as it were. I guess the solemnity does recall Bruckner to some extent. I do not know the Sculthorpe though and will have to check it out.

vandermolen

Quote from: krummholz on June 01, 2022, 02:53:49 AM
Thanks! Yes, there are a couple of Mahlerian angry snarls on the muted trumpet, a tip of the hat to Gustav as it were. I guess the solemnity does recall Bruckner to some extent. I do not know the Sculthorpe though and will have to check it out.

It's here:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxKBwtz27fA
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

relm1


krummholz


krummholz


krummholz

Recently I had my first really bad rejection of my work by a professional, a conductor in a nearby city, a social acquaintance of a friend of mine. He had some nice things to say about this piece to soften the blow, but the gist of his criticism was that it sounded like "undirected musing" and lacked a "compelling trajectory". Said the big moments are "well-voiced but just happen". I shouldn't be too surprised, as more than one composer on another forum took several hearings to get into the piece, so I shouldn't have expected a busy conductor to give it more than a single listen. He might be right about some things too, certainly about the lack of real contrast in the tempi and lack of rhythmic variety, that others have commented on also. Ah well. I made some changes to invisible things in the score like "hidden" (in Sibelius) tempi, ritards and the lengths of fermatas, and I sped up Interludio I and slowed down the beginning of the Evoluzione to increase the contrast in tempi there. I think the result is a bit more convincing (posted at the top of the thread), but no need to listen again unless you've been following my work on this and are curious.

relm1

Quote from: krummholz on September 03, 2022, 12:39:47 PM
Recently I had my first really bad rejection of my work by a professional, a conductor in a nearby city, a social acquaintance of a friend of mine. He had some nice things to say about this piece to soften the blow, but the gist of his criticism was that it sounded like "undirected musing" and lacked a "compelling trajectory". Said the big moments are "well-voiced but just happen". I shouldn't be too surprised, as more than one composer on another forum took several hearings to get into the piece, so I shouldn't have expected a busy conductor to give it more than a single listen. He might be right about some things too, certainly about the lack of real contrast in the tempi and lack of rhythmic variety, that others have commented on also. Ah well. I made some changes to invisible things in the score like "hidden" (in Sibelius) tempi, ritards and the lengths of fermatas, and I sped up Interludio I and slowed down the beginning of the Evoluzione to increase the contrast in tempi there. I think the result is a bit more convincing (posted at the top of the thread), but no need to listen again unless you've been following my work on this and are curious.

I would like to hear the revision.  Some words of wisdom a colleague gave me.  He was winning all commissions and all awards and since we were classmates, I asked him how does he keep winning?  What's the secret?  He said - I just keep applying.  I win some and lose lots.  That was very surprising to me because I saw him as always winning and me always losing.  In reality, a big part of the process is to put your stuff out there.  You'll get rejected a lot!  That's par for the course and happens to the best of us.  But the ones who keep winning are probably the ones who put ALOT more out there so they lost so much more too!  Take the feedback and incorporate whatever is positive but ignore the negative.  This is an industry like the tortoise and the haire but the tortoise persists and incorporates feedback.  It's not a bad thing.  Keep going!

krummholz

Quote from: relm1 on September 03, 2022, 04:39:34 PM
I would like to hear the revision.  Some words of wisdom a colleague gave me.  He was winning all commissions and all awards and since we were classmates, I asked him how does he keep winning?  What's the secret?  He said - I just keep applying.  I win some and lose lots.  That was very surprising to me because I saw him as always winning and me always losing.  In reality, a big part of the process is to put your stuff out there.  You'll get rejected a lot!  That's par for the course and happens to the best of us.  But the ones who keep winning are probably the ones who put ALOT more out there so they lost so much more too!  Take the feedback and incorporate whatever is positive but ignore the negative.  This is an industry like the tortoise and the haire but the tortoise persists and incorporates feedback.  It's not a bad thing.  Keep going!

Thanks @relm1. Those are indeed wise words.

Well, the revised rendering is in the first post of the thread. Best to download and then listen on the player of your choice, as Google Drive usually drops direct playback at random times.

I'm not sure you'll notice any real difference from the version you already heard. I think I did make a couple of changes to the scoring earlier in the summer though, made the horns double the cellos in one place, added a double bass line in another, probably some others I don't remember. So maybe.

vandermolen

'The answer is always to persevere'

Vaughan Williams gave advice to his students as to how to respond to his criticism/comments on their work.

a) accept it blindly (bad)

b) reject it completely (bad, but not so bad)

c) think it through and then come up with their own solution (good)
"Courage is going from failure to failure without losing enthusiasm" (Churchill).

'The test of a work of art is, in the end, our affection for it, not our ability to explain why it is good' (Stanley Kubrick).

krummholz

Thanks, Jeffrey. I don't completely reject this conductor's criticism, I just find one or two of his comments so baffling that I have to wonder if he was really listening. He basically said the piece came across as a set of events without continuity or preparation; compared it to 20th century "moment form" and said that conflicted with the Common Practice idiom the work is rooted in. I don't understand how anyone could listen to it attentively and miss the continuity, even if they felt it was too much slow tempo or not enough rhythmic variety (both fair criticisms perhaps).

I replaced the rendering again, added a very subtle ritard at one point without any change to the printed score (basically a "performance practice" thing), but mainly was dissatisfied with the sloppy ensemble in a couple of places. Arne Wallander prides himself that NotePerformer renderings sound almost human, but that "humanness" includes entries being slightly out of sync sometimes, which I find frustrating and could really do without. Seems to be more noticeable with Sibelius for some reason (compared with Finale), and happens at some point in every single playback. All of my posted renderings have sections from separate playbacks spliced together for that reason.

krummholz

I keep coming back to this piece, probably to excess, to improve it as much as I can. Especially since it was soundly rejected by a local conductor for reasons of *structure* (which I thought was one of its strongest points), I have been trying to think of ways to make the structure clearer. Yet there is little or nothing that I can think of in the way of changing the notes themselves, so I've focused on the scoring. This version has a number of small tweaks to the voicing and the dynamics, plus, the past few days I've expanded the timpani part substantially. When I first introduced the timpani I wanted to avoid using them dynamically and tried to keep their role mainly limited to a very sparse line in the quieter sections. But I realized that using the timpani *also* in a more dynamic way could help better delineate the high points as well as add to their drama.

Feedback would be appreciated, though I don't really expect any as the piece is long, and the changes I've made are few in number and scattered through the work. Some highlights:

The timpani roll beginning at 05:30 is extended and then some strong timpani strokes punctuate the crescendo that follows.

The timpani now figure strongly in the climax that begins at 12:30.

There is a timpani roll now in the die-away before letter DD (19:04).

The timpani then reenter at letter HH (23:00) and figure prominently in the climax that ensues.

Audio file:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1u0LYnHUTuW02_aJ5rsw4qRAXOFUAMSlq/view?usp=sharing

Draft score:
https://drive.google.com/file/d/1kOkfbF1TAiW9LyrTaVuqEkEiz1J7OwTq/view?usp=sharing


krummholz

Thanksgiving break: a welcome interval during which to potter a bit. The Coda has bothered me for a while: the last appearance of DSCH on the horn has a sighing quality, almost a gesture of resignation, yet I swallowed this up with an immediate final crescendo. I decided to extend the Coda by 2 bars to make the gesture explicit: a die-away to pp, except the 1st violins high pedal C sounds ever at p, like a beacon. Two accented quavers, on the double basses and then the low brass, precede the last crescendo. The last 3 bars are also marked Piu largamente. I quite like the way this ends now, though it feels even more Mahlerian than before. Opinions?

Coda only: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1iiJRNXESjoWW8MWXz_inp7EJIao87FUy/view?usp=sharing