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Symphony AD 78

By Gordon Jacob

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Concert band (Piccolo, 1st Flute, 2nd Flute, Oboe 1/2, Bassoon 1/2, Eb Clarinet, 1st Bb Clarinet, 2nd Bb Clarinet, 3rd Bb Clarinet, Eb Alto Clarinet, Bb Bass Clarinet, Eb Alto Saxophone 1/2, Bb Tenor Saxophone, Eb Baritone Saxophone, 1st Bb Cornet, 2nd/3rd Bb Cornet, 1) - grade 5
Composed by Gordon Jacob (1895-1986). Band Music. Score only. Duration 15:30. Published by G & M Brand Music Publishers (CN.S11158).

Item Number: CN.S11158

A powerful work. An opening fanfare leads directly to an Allegro risoluto, which exudes determination and forthrightness. The second movement follows without a break and is a continuous plaint in which the melody seems forever seeking resolution like a troubled soul searching for respite. Only in the closing bars does peace seem to take over. The final movement, marked Allegro non troppo, starts with a cheering fanfare that leads to a bright and breezy romp, with a rustic feel about it. When the fanfare reappears we are suddenly immersed in exaltations of joy that really give a feeling of optimism as we proceed to the end of the piece via a short Coda.

With this Symphony, Gordon Jacob proclaims his absolute mastery of idiom and instrumentation with a triumphant rejoicing. Written in 1978 as a commission from Arthur Doyle (hence the "AD" in the title, a typical piece of Jacob wit), it lay virtually unplayed save for the efforts of his Estate, Troy Peterson and Geoffrey Brand and CBDNA (College Band Directors Association, USA), who between them ensured that it was professionally recorded in 1994 and published in 1995. There is little point in indulging in semantics as to whether the piece is a Symphony. It is Jacob's approach to his tuneful, folk-based material which is symphonic: weighty in exposition and development, sonorous and expressive in the slow movement, with a scherzo-like last movement and a giocoso coda. After a brilliant opening fanfare, the quick triple-meter first theme (Allegro Risoluto) is introduced on clarinets, punctuated with brass. It is soon followed by a contrasting melody for saxophone. In all this material the interval of a 4th is prominent, and throughout the work the 4th and 7th are important. Perhaps it is the frequent use of the 7th which gives a feeling of restlessness without resolution which pervades this movement as the themes are dissected and developed. The second movement follows directly after a horn bridge. Still the melody outlines the 7th and the ear is not satisfied until the full band (with organ), comes to rest in Bb major. This point of repose and the magic pianissimo which follows shortly after when the slow theme is re-stated, are the apex of the Symphony's construction. Soon, however, we are transported, via a fanfare, into a helter-skelter 9/8 romp: rustic, English, and almost vulgar, this theme is thrown around the group before exploding into a boisterous 2/4 coda.

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