.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.

SYMPHONY No. 4 (2009-2014)
for Organ, Orchestra and Soprano
Commissioned by the Los Angeles Philharmonic and the Orange Country Philharmonic Society

Orchestra
4 Flutes (3rd and 4th double Piccolo), 4 Oboes (4th doubles English Horn), 4 B-flat Clarinets (3rd doubles E-flat Clarinet, 4th Doubles B-flat Bass Clarinet), 4 Bassoons (4th doubling Contrabassoon), 6 Horns, 4 Trumpets, 4 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, 5 Percussionists (Crotales, Glockenspiel, Vibraphone, Xylophone, 2 Triangles, 8 Suspended Cymbals, Javanese Gong in A#3, Guiro, 5 Temple Blocks, 3 Wood Blocks, 4 Log Drums, 1 Timpano, Medium Bass Drum, Large Bass Drum), Piano, Harp, Organ, Soprano, Strings

 
Duration: 28 minutes

I have wanted to compose a work for organ with orchestra since I first started to write music. Thanks to the kindness of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, I was able to sketch a good deal of the organ part at the console of the Disney Hall instrument exploring its wonderful array of unique timbres. In casting the piece as a symphony with organ, it was my aim to use it as an integral part of the orchestral fabric, a fifth choir contributing its special colors in the way that only it can.

Played as a single continuous whole, the symphony is nonetheless in three large sections, the first of which begins with a roiling progression of dark chords that brings a musical world into being. There follows a series of themes, the first presented by the organ, the second by two oboes, and the third by the cellos, which will appear in various guises throughout the work. The middle section begins with a high, quiet chorale for the strings and then yields to a scherzo-like section beginning with the organ in its highest register. Gradually new ideas enter that eventually come to push aside the initial theme. What has begun with a certain degree of lightness and innocence, becomes more restive and even violent. A brief respite appears in a calm theme for the quartet of trumpets, but the growing upheaval reasserts itself and brings the section to a fortississimo conclusion.

The final section is an aria for soprano, a setting of Federico García Lorca’s Sleepwalking Ballad in the beautiful English translation by the late Irish poet, Michael Hartnett. Lorca’s poetry is especially notable for its beguiling combination of vivid depiction and surreal imagery. This poem tells of desire, recklessness and loss. One commentator has interpreted it as a vision at the instant of death. I have placed it here as both a commentary on and conclusion to the drama set forth in the two previous sections.

THE SLEEPWALKING BALLAD
Federico Garcia Lorca,
translated by Michael Hartnett

Green, how I love you, green.
Green wind, green branches.
Ship up on the sea,
horse in the mountain ranches.
With shadows at her waist
she dreams at her balcony window,
Green flesh, green hair
and eyes of cold silver.
Green, how I love you, green.
Huge stars of frost
come out with the fish-shadow
to open the dawn’s pass.
The fig tree strokes the wind
with its sandpaper talons,
the thieving cat of a mountain
bristles its sour aloes.
But who will come? And from where?
She lingers on the balcony,
green flesh, green hair,
dreaming of the bitter sea.

‘Friend, I want to swap
my saddle for your mirror,
my horse for your house,
my knife for your bed-cover.
Friend, I have come bleeding
from the passes of Cabra.’
‘If I could, young man,
I would close the bargain.
But I am no longer myself
nor is my house my own.’

'Friend, I wish to die
decently at home
with white linen bed-clothes.
Do you not see this wound
I have from breast to throat?’
On your white shirt you have
three hundred dark roses.
Your blood smells pungent
as through your sash it oozes.
But I am no longer myself
nor is my house my own.’
‘At least let me climb up
to the high balcony alone,
let me climb, let me up
to the green balconies
where the water sounds
on the moon’s many balconies.’

And now the two friends climb
up to the green stairs,
leaving a trail of blood,
leaving a trail of tears.
Small lanterns of tin
on the roofs quaked:
A thousand drums of crystal
wounded the daybreak.
Green, how I love you, green.
Green wind, green branches.
The two friends climb
and the strong wind launches
a strange taste in the mouth,
mint, gall and basil.

‘Friend, where is she? Tell me,
Where is your bitter girl?
How often she waited for you!
How often she would wait
on the green balcony,
cool face, black hair.’

Over the face of the well
the gypsy girl shivered,
green flesh, green hair
and eyes of cold silver.
An icicle of the moon
over the water held her:
the night became as secret
as a little square.
Green, how I love you, green.
Green wind, green branches,
ship up on the sea,
horse in the mountain ranches.

(Text used by permission
of the Estate of Michael Hartnett)

.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
.
aaaaaaaaaaaaiii