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A large scale one-movement work, the symphony begins in a dark brooding manner that brings to mind Shostakovich in his 6th Symphony. The long opening section with its retinue of related themes is relentless in driving home a feeling of melancholy and despair. The brilliant fanfare on three trumpets that ends the section and heralds the next brings only partial relief. While the themes of the new section are lighter and less foreboding, there are close connections between the thematic material of both sections that leaves one in little doubt that the respite is only momentary. Again the fanfare is heard with the music plunging back into dark foreboding. If the elements of sonata form were relevant, this next section might be called the development with the first two being the 1st and 2nd Subjects respectively. At any rate there is a struggle between the lighter and darker aspects of the music as typified in the first two sections. But the tonalities once again pull the dark brooding elements in with the first section returning like a soulful recapitulation. A long coda for strings alone ensues, which acts very much like a development of the main theme heard at the beginning of the symphony. At the very end that theme is repeated on solo flute, then solo oboe, while a solo trumpet descends in mournful tones over quiet strings.
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Reviews of Symphony No. 8
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