The Symphonic Suite
Op 8 was composed in 1894, immediately after the successful premiere of his Symphony No 1, and is similarly ambitious in scale and musical scope. David Fanning has discovered that the first movement was inspired by the sight of a sturdy old oak tree at the farm in Gjorslev where the piece was composed. Nielsen wrote: ‘During the period when I was writing the piece I went every day to the tree and received a strong impression, which I then tried to reproduce in a succession of powerful chord progressions in the aforementioned piece.’ The movement is played fortissimo throughout, and the title (‘Intonation’) serves a double purpose: to describe both the act of sounding, or projecting (‘to intone’), and the adoption of a particular mode of expression or tone of musical voice. The second movement is a complete contrast, a gentle pastoral, whose middle section generates a considerable sense of linear contrapuntal energy; while the third movement is an extended Andante with contrasting second subject, whose opening bars are coloured by Nielsen’s characteristic modal melodic interval, the flattened seventh. The finale is a fluid moto perpetuo, which recalls themes from earlier movements in a circular résumé before driving home the closing bars in a decisive coda that anticipates the spirit, and tonality (A major), of the conclusion of the third symphony, composed sixteen years later.
from notes by Daniel Grimley © 2008