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The first movement of this symphony opens quietly with a number of ideas in which the melodic interval of a fifth has some prominence. A faster section follows and the development of these ideas leads to climaxes with patterns of diverse rhythms superimposed. After the final climax the movement subsides to a quiet ending.
The second movement has the character of a Scherzo. Lively rhythms alternating between 6/8 and 3/4 lead to a quieter sustained "trio" tune. The scherzo resumes and takes the music to a climax where these two ideas are presented together – the faster one (violins and trumpets) across the slower (horns and trombones). The music unwinds until we are left with a fragment of the slower theme, which becomes a link to the third movement.
The finale has the form of a free passacaglia. It grows out of the opening trumpet tune and its accompaniment – the trumpet tune becomes the passacaglia bass, while the stepwise bass takes over as melody. At the end of the movement a reference back to the melodic falling fifths of the first movement leads to the final chord – fading from brass to wind, and in the end, to strings alone.
(Programme note by Owen Jensen on the sleeve of the 1969 Kiwi/Pacfic LP recording by the NZSO under Juan Matteucci)
30 Jan 2004: Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Kenneth Young
Performed by the NZBC Symphony Orchestra (now New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) conducted by Juan Matteucci