MS Page 492
So I’ve completed another retrospective chunk of 16 minutes plus and can offer you a most generous 11 minute plus portion. My thinking at the moment is not to post everything and not to reveal the whole movement at least until it’s finished and then maybe not then as I’m contemplating some sort of “World Premier” performance of the whole work, maybe on line via YouTube, maybe in a performance venue, maybe both.
There’s a nice bookend to this extract which begins and ends with a bass oboe solo. At 23″ the strings all expand to 4 parts each, 20 overall for quite a stretch. Sorabji employs a variety of playing techniques in this section. At the start the 1st violins are playing very high rapid chromatic lines in block harmony (major 7th chords), the 2nd violins play glissando figures in block major/minor chords, the violas play melodically in block 7th chords, the cellos provide steady pizzicato in major/minor block chords, the basses have sustained notes in this case major and minor 2nds doubled at the octave. Each group will swap what they’re doing and there are also tremolo passages, artificial harmonics, scalic rushing, arpeggio figures and trills all constantly passed around. This is a fairly typical passage. Over the top of this string melee there are snatches of melody in the wind and chorus as well as accompanying figures. At 36′ there is another common gesture when a steady staccato semiquaver pointing starts in the clarinets then moves to the other wind then to the brass.
At 2’08” the strings reduce in texture to an ascending running scale from basses to violins punctuated by short tremolo jabs whilst the wind descends from on high with a rapid staccato tonguing passage. Most of the orchestra then joins building to a semi climax with stamping bass and timpani which dissolves suddenly into an entirely different mood and tempo at 3’09”.
Talking of tempi, this next passage is interesting as it has several changes, gearing up gradually from pulse = 50 BPM to pulse = 180 BPM. Now, you must remember, there are absolutely zero tempo indications anywhere in the score. Everything is at the discretion of the performer and in this case entirely made up by me. The initial 50 BPM section is another typical Mediterranean style passage, long languid melodies in middle strings and wind, steady rhythmic pulse in lower strings and percussion, skittering around in upper strings and wind. This gradually increases in texture until we move into 2nd gear which is a doubling of the speed at 3’57” and a 3/4 pulse marked out by the cymbals and tam-tam. There’s some heavy lower brass interjections and a lot more movement through the orchestra. This doesn’t last long before we move into 3rd gear at 4’08” and a tempo of pulse = 116 this time in a 4/4 feel marked by the gong repeating a leap of a 5th. Again the action increases with more activity in all sections. At 4’20” we arrive at 4th Gear with the pulse at 180 BPM with huge rapid running passages in wind and strings and plenty of energy in the brass and timps and noise from the choir. A pretty thrilling passage.
This passage peters out into calmer quieter fair at 5’20” where we revert to ideas similar to the passage at the beginning of this extract with the strings again divided in 20 parts. I’ll leave you to your own imagination for the rest of the extract but listen out for a nice heart beat thrubbing in the bass drum and lower strings at 7’04” accompanying melody in the chorus and gong. There’s a fuller “Glory Glory” section at 8’48” (without organ).