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The second, slow movement is clearly in G minor and its tone is elegiac. It became a memorial piece for my friend Norman Worrall, a composer, a lover of music, and a Mancunian, who died while I was writing it. The central section is a fugue for strings before a powerful return of the opening section and a quiet, lamenting coda. In complete contrast, the finale opens in a carefree G major. It consists of four dance sections, each lasting just over a minute, all of them exuberant in tone. At the end of the fourth dance, a waltz, there is an interlude with a viola theme accompanied by downward glissandi on the violins, which was inspired by vapour trails in the sky over Deal on the Kent coast. The four dance sections then reappear in reverse order, the first three abbreviated and the last extended into a coda. At the very end, the theme of the first movement’s introduction is heard again, now free of tension, and in the last three bars the opening of the trumpet theme is played by a bassoon, quietly affirming the G major it had always been searching for.
While I no longer feel the need to defend my use of tonality, since it seems obvious now that non-tonal music has not replaced it, perhaps I should say something about my light-hearted finale, with its use of melodic ideas that some might think naïve. Of course I’m aware that I’m going very much against the zeitgeist, and that most major art today is pessimistic in tone—which, given the state of the world, is hardly surprising. Yet shouldn’t it still be possible to express feelings of delight, love of life, elation? They will inevitably be mingled with other, darker moods. But if we cannot contrast one with the other, then surely we are not fully human.
from notes by David Matthews © 2020
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