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SYMPHONY No.4 IN G Minor Op.167 - page 4 / 4





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restatement of the material from letters E to G. Raff has accomplished a fusion of sonata form and Passacaglia!

Letter J brings yet another variation with a clever displacement of the second measure of Ex.1 against itself: [not extant]; theme in the low woodwind, displacement in the strings. There follows almost immediately a new variation in C major in which the melodic line is given important extension. A new form of Ex.1 serves as a short transition to the final orchestral outburst. The coda to the movement, recognizable by the pizzicato strings on Ex.1 brings no less than six different versions of Ex.1. The technical wizardry of Raff, as admirable as it is on paper, is completely subject to the emotion engendered in the movement when actually heard. The encounter is first class orchestral satisfaction.

The Finale (Allegro, G major 4/4) starts off with a quotation from the opening of the first movement (G minor 3/4) and after a short recitative in the celli (inevitably recalling the opening to the Finale in Beethoven's Ninth Symphony) the music moves swiftly into common time and the major mode. After a few bars of preluding, a cheeky tune is announced gaily on the oboes Ex.1 [not extant], which is passed on to the bassoon for repetition. It is taken up by the string contingent at letter A in inversion and it is here that one recognizes that this main theme is actually a metamorphosis of Ex.1 from the first movement - hence a possible reason for the quotation at the beginning of the Finale. The first violins, joined by flutes, then add this important extension to the theme: Ex.2 [not extant]. Piquant orchestration accompanies violas and bassoons when they bring back Ex.1 in its original form, and soon this is taken up by the full orchestra accompanied by a strange pulsation in tympani and trumpets which finally erupts at letter B into a syncopated accompaniment to a new theme: Ex.3 [not extant]. The music which follows is utterly irresistible in its spontaneity and buoyancy; it is one of the most joyous passages in all Raff. The momentum achieved at letter B is not allowed to falter when Raff introduces some lyrical contrast - in actuality an appendage - and makes a gradual transition (letter C) to a new melody in which chromatic coloration and instrumental interplay feature prominently: Ex.4 [not extant], which bursts forth radiantly throughout the orchestra accompanied by a magnificent counterpoint in oboes clarinets and horns: Ex.5 [not extant], which culminates in a return of the syncopations heard with Ex.3. The following unison scalar passage which follows in the string and acts as transition to the development section has an intensity about it which brings another parallel to Tchaikovskian gesture, and for a moment the listener might mistake himself to be in the Finale of Tchiakovsky's Fourth Symphony rather than Raff's!

When Ex.1 returns at letter D the form of the Finale becomes finally apparent, it is a Rondo, albeit with a certain amount of alteration. After Ex.1 has been twice repeated Raff introduces a new idea in clarinets and bassoons with a simple running accompaniment in the strings which has an important end phrase: Ex.6 [not extant]. A repetition of this material leads to letter E where the material is broken up and combined; a general crescendo ensues and the orchestra gradual fills out until finally the listener is once again swept off his feet by the exuberance of the proceedings. The denouement to this is a modulatory passage which introduces, at letter F, the key of A flat major. The ensuing section is a double fugue based on the materials of Exs.3 and 1; it gives the impression of being a development section. In reality it is Raff's way of telescoping the obligatory repetition of sections associated with these themes. At letter H Ex.4 is repeated, there is a shortened repetition of the passage heard at letter ? and the music suddenly moves into C minor, (listesso tempo) and the meter changes to 3/2: the horns intone the main theme of the first movement and the music modulates to G major with a return of duple meter. The ensuing coda makes Raff's invention seemingly inexhaustible: Ex.1 of the Finale is now transformed into triplet ideas: Ex.7 [not extant].

Ex.6 returns in augmentation against itself and via this material a Stretto ensues which brings a headlong rush to the final affirmative G major chords with which the symphony concludes.

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