Symphony no. 1 – a small world

Giles SwayneGZ059
Large orchestra: 3 Flutes (2nd doubling Alto flute and 2nd Piccolo, 3rd doubling 1st Piccolo), 2 Oboes, Cor anglais, 3 Clarinets (1st in B flat, 2nd in A doubling E flat Clarinet, 3rd in B flat doubling Bass clarinet), 2 Bassoons, Contrabassoon; 4 Horns, 3 Trumpets, 3 Trombones, Tuba; Timpani, Percussion (5 players); Celesta, 2 Harps; Strings. | Duration: 44 minutes

Commissioned by the BBC and first performed on 17th November 2007 at St David’s Hall, Cardiff by the BBC National Orchestra of Wales conducted by Jac van Steen. Begun in 2006 and completed in September 2007, this is the first large orchestral piece from Giles Swayne since The song of Leviathan of 1988. It stems from the composer’s fury that the human race has so maltreated the planet. The dogs of war is a long, increasingly savage movement which conveys the restlessly destructive power of human activity. In Silent Spring a treacly, insidious waltz gradually invades and destroys a forest dawn-chorus. Near the end, each creature sings one last desperate phrase; each is chopped down by a killer blow from the orchestra. The finale, Threnody, is a lament for Man’s extinction. It begins with a piccolo – the last bird in the world – singing its heart out in a dead landscape. Eight variations follow, the last of which is a passacaglia with eight short variations of its own – which return us to the melody of the opening.

  • The dogs of war
  • Silent Spring
  • Threnody
  Orchestral material available for hire

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