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Relayed from the National Museum of Wales
National Orchestra of Wales
(Cerddorfa Genedlaethol Cymru)
At an age at which Beethoven had given the world one symphony, Schubert had already produced eight, the first appearing in 1814, in its composer's eighteenth year. The fourth, to be played this evening, was finished in the spring of 1816, though it was not until 1849 that it was first played-by the Euterpe Musical Society. Its title of 'Tragic' was not given to it till later, and though it is not wholly appropriate, the Symphony contrasts strongly with the joyful mood of its predecessors.
The first movement begins with a slow introduction, first violins, followed in imitation by the basses, playing the theme. Strings alone begin the allegro vivace which follows, first violins again having the melody, as well as the answering phrase in which the winds reinforce them. It is the violins. too, which play the second subject on its first appearance, handing it on to be repeated by woodwinds. The development is on orthodox lines, and there is no actual fresh material until, towards the cud, we pass into the major, and to a happier spirit.
There is nothing very tragic in the second movement. It is a graceful, melodious Andante, in which the chief melody, played at the outset by first violins, has something of Mozart's delicacy and neatness. For a little space the movement grows more animated, but at the end the quiet, simple melody of the opening returns.
Nor can the vivacious Minuet which follows be called 'tragic,' in spite of the chromatic falling theme with which it begins-strings and woodwinds playing it in unison. There is a short and dainty Trio, wistful perhaps, but not touched with any deep sadness.
Only with the beginning of the last movement do we return to something like the tragic mood of the first. The basses have an upward soaring figure, and then violins, in detached phrases at first, play the sad theme. Like the first, this movement is worked out at considerable length and with constantly varied interest in its changes of mood and key; like the first too, it passes at the end into major, with a major form of the opening melody as its chief subject.
National Orchestra of
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