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The Four Temperaments


Just as Nielsen provided witty, illuminating notes for his Symphony No 2, which shares the same title, so Robert Simpson prefaced the score of this work with the following words:

The sanguine temperament crashes through life with irrepressible enthusiasm. Obstacles stop him only for a moment, and he goes roaring on as if nothing happened.
The phlegmatic temperament is placid, not readily upset. It is not stupid or bovine (as is sometimes supposed) but it cannot be easily ruffled. Here it is seen to be unperturbed by a considerable disturbance from the timpani and snare drum.
The melancholic nature is not merely lugubrious. It is deep-feeling, serious and dignified. There is something grand and courageous in its gloom and strength and in its willingness to face grim facts.
The choleric man is quick to anger, but is not simply vituperative – he has in him good and generous qualities, but even when he is calm something is smouldering inside him, ready to burst into flame.

Each temperament is dedicated to a friend of the composer, respectively Martin Anderson, Dick Edwards, Robert Barnes, and John and Sylvia Brooks. The work is an organic whole, the closest Simpson approached to a fully fledged four-movement symphony for brass band, with two explosive outer movements surrounding two calmer ones. Certainly its bold design and grand conception suggest a work of truly symphonic dimensions. The Four Temperaments was completed in 1983.

from notes by Matthew Taylor © 1991


Simpson: Music for Brass
CDA66449Archive Service


No 1: Scherzo: Presto
No 2: Intermezzo: Allegro placido
No 3: Elegy: Mesto, sempre non vibrato
No 4: Fantasia: Allegro irato

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