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Symphony No 7


Like in my the 6th symphony, the music in the 7th is continuous but this time falls into six main sections, or 'phases', all founded in various ways on the rising whole-tone scale heard at the very start. This affects the harmonic language but the 7th is also the most directly tonal of all my recent pieces. This is not an unconscious development; at this point in the 21st century many composers draw upon influences from here, there and everywhere, and if you wish to express positive emotions why not use straightforward tonality?

I had in mind a long challenging journey; you can imagine the ascent of a high mountain, or something more psychological—fortunately one doesn’t have to be specific, and surely one of the joys of listening is that everybody brings their own life experiences to bear.

Phase one is slow and thoughtful, which you could regard as waking from sleep and pondering the task ahead. A far more active phase follows, mostly optimistic with hints of something heroic. With phase three we enter a mysterious, foggy world with the blurred outlines of mysterious shapes. Phase four, by contrast, is relentlessly rhythmic with a steady pulse, becoming ever more dramatic; the idea of struggling against formidable odds was uppermost in my mind. A short break in tension follows, a prelude to a return of the optimistic music heard in phase two. Again this subsides and the thoughtful, quiet opening music returns briefly. This proves to be preparation for the final main section, with its confirmation of A major, and the summit. At the very end, we hear the quiet rising scales from the opening, this time high in the violins; is this exhaustion? Or perhaps a hollow victory?

from notes by Christopher Gunning © 2021


Gunning: Symphonies Nos 6 & 7
Studio Master: SIGCD655Download onlyStudio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available

Track-specific metadata for SIGCD655 track 3

Recording date
4 February 2014
Recording venue
Watford Town Hall, United Kingdom
Recording producer
Recording engineer
Mike Hatch
Hyperion usage
  1. Gunning: Symphonies Nos 6 & 7 (SIGCD655)
    Disc 1 Track 3
    Release date: February 2021
    Download only
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