Movement 1: Allegro
Movement 2: Larghetto
Movement 3: Scherzo: Presto
Movement 4: Finale: Vivace
The Larghetto in B flat major contrasts a gently lyrical and richly harmonized melody with a powerful G minor section featuring prominent trumpet and drum outbursts which eventually lead to a grand climax. Then the B flat music returns to wind things down to a peaceful conclusion. There follows a highly individual Presto scherzo in D minor with little trace of Beethoven’s influence. Spohr keeps the dynamics subdued for some time before a sudden flare-up in the major releases the tension. The ländler-like trio in D major gains extra variety from its presentation. In both sections the theme is first heard on winds and timpani only while the repeats are restricted to the strings. When the trio returns after the scherzo has been reprised, the full orchestra joins together to present the theme. There is an impressive coda which, in miniature, even looks ahead to Bruckner’s scherzos.
Although Spohr keeps the D major Vivace finale light in tone, he avoids eighteenth-century stereotypes. After a call to attention, a ‘travelling’ theme is launched which points forward to such finales as those in the D major symphonies of Brahms and Dvorvák. Haydn pops up in the second subject which elicits more humour in the development and there is a short but vigorous coda.
from notes by Keith Warsop © 2007
Chairman, Spohr Society of Great Britain