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Symphony No. 1 (Kaleidoscopic) : for orchestra / Joey Roukens

Publisher's number: 21118
Genre: Unknown
Subgenre: Orchestra
Scoring: picc 3fl/picc 3ob/eh 3cl/cl-b 3fg/cfg 4h tpt 3trb tb timp 3perc hp pf/cel str
Remarks: Commissioned by the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra.
Duration: 42'00"
Year of composition: 2021
Status: fully digitized (real-time delivery)

Other authors:
Roukens, Joey (Composer)
Always with forward motion
Scherzo: Night Flight
My first symphony was written for the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra. It is four-movement work of about 42 minutes, my longest purely orchestral work to date. The symphony is a kind of summary or 'kaleidoscope' of all those musical interests and techniques that have occupied me over the past decade or so. So we hear my take on post-minimalism in the first movement, echoes of early music in the second movement, my fascination with speed and motoric, additive rhythmics in the scherzo and my love of slow-moving adagios (in the vein of Sibelius or Mahler) in the final movement. Like many of my orchestral works, this symphony is characterized by great contrasts and a motley array of color and expression. Although the four movements seem very different, they nevertheless spring from the same seed. Thus, each movement begins with exactly the same harmonic state: the same initial chord, the same chord progression, in short, the same musical DNA from which a different organism emerges in each of the four movements.
The first movement (‘Always with forward motion’) begins mysteriously and quietly pulsating. A tapestry of overlapping layers of pulses unfolds. Initially, a long thin melody line in the violins seems to lead the music to a more melodic side, but soon the rhythmic, pulsating aspect takes over the music and the rhythmic drive gradually becomes stronger and more exhilarating. Towards the end of the movement, a processional-like passage with timpani pulse and blaring horns builds to a climax.
The second movement (‘Ayre’), takes the listener into very different, much calmer waters. After a dreamy introduction, a lyrical, song-like melody sounds in the oboe against a harmonic background in the strings. While writing it, I had associations with old Elizabethan ayres (airs), like the ones John Dowland wrote. The melody constantly shifts color and gradually becomes more erratic, intense and energetic to a point where the music briefly threatens to derail.
The third movement (‘Scherzo: Night Flight’) is a highly energetic and rhythmically profiled movement, where I imagine a kind of 'rollercoaster ride' through the night over a bustling city, with music that is dark in tone but colourful and full of irregular time signatures and grotesque, carnival-like elements.
The final movement ‘Landscape’ is a very slow movement (tempo designation lentissimo) that begins very delicately and small, with a thin orchestral texture dominated by percussion (xylophone, marimba), piccolo, harp, piano and pizzicato violins. Gradually, the music becomes larger, more swelling and expansive to eventually evoke a very vast and majestic landscape, before thinning out again and returning to the small, fragile sound with which the movement also began. The symphony ends as it also began: with a single rarefied, high note D.

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