Symphony No. 3 is in five movements and runs approximately 45 minutes. The first movement is in a moderate tempo and follows one of my favorite schemes. It starts with the simplest of scale materials and evolves a steady, unbroken line from start to finish. It is in sonata form, tightly woven in character, giving it something of a Baroque feel. The movement is forceful and unrelenting for most of its duration, but ends quietly.
The second movement is a serene and beautiful “nature” music, mostly for small combinations of instruments. I am intrigued with the magical quality of sustained pure colors. Musical sound is colorful and structural at t he same time. I love a music that allows the listener to develop an intense reverie through sustained sounds, while at the same time being carried through the structure of the piece. Time and timelessness join in a powerful way, each informing and illuminating the other.
The third is a fierce and bristling fast movement that maintains its high energy from start to finish. It is also in sonata form. The development section is a fugue which rises in power to a huge climax area. The music is fixed largely in the tonality of A minor: the first and second themes are in A minor, a third theme is in D, but the exposition ends in A minor. The development begins and ends in the home key, as does the recapitulation. This unmoving tonal scheme emerged and would not be derailed, so I had to let it happen. The tonal fixation seems to underline the character of fierce power.
The fourth and fifth movements are both lamentations, though not particularly slow or “down” in spirit. It is hard to describe opposites existing in the same space and time. The music is joyous yet sorrowful, recognizing the complementary nature of life and death. These movements – indeed the entire Symphony – have grown out of my perceptions of natural forces, especially the strong currents of old life that exist here in Montana. The music is a lamentation for the loss of the old direct contact with the life of the Earth, yet a recognition that these value still exist and can be brought back into meaningful focus.
The fourth movement does not have an easily-labeled traditional form. The music moves through a series of song-like episodes, much as one might move through mountain meadows and across hills, natural vistas of great beauty appearing and dissolving as one goes. About two-thirds of the way through is the song of the “Golden Light”
The fifth movement might be called “Song for a Summer Day.” The character of lament is there, but the creative winds rise and bring an ecstatic vision of natural beauty and life force. The movement ends with the lament transformed into a song of quiet joy.
Program note by David Maslanka.