I have wanted to compose a symphony for organ and orchestra since I first started to write music at the age of ten. Thanks to the kindness and support of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, and the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, I was not only able to realize this dream but to sketch a good deal of the organ part at the console of the Walt Disney Concert Hall organ, exploring its wonderful array of unique timbres. In casting the piece as a symphony with organ, it was my aim to use it as an integral part of the orchestral fabric, a fifth choir contributing special colors in the way only it can.
After further motivic conflation, the organist gets an extraordinary cadenza for the pedals. This is also based on thematic bits in a Bachian manner, combining the virtuosity of the pedal passages in Bach’s early toccatas with Bach’s style in the solo cello suites, wringing contrapuntal implications from basically a single line. Played as a single continuous whole, the Symphony is nonetheless in three large sections, The orchestra comes quietly back, the English the first of which begins with a roiling progreshorn and clarinets again sounding like solo reed sion of dark chords that brings a musical world stops, as Barber recapitulates his themes into a into being. There follows a series of themes, the big, blazing finish in A major. first presented by the organ, the second by two oboes, and the third by the cellos, which reappear – John Henken in various guises throughout the work. HARTKE: SYMPHONY NO. 4 Composed: 2014 Length: c. 28 minutes
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The swirling fanfare returns, ushering in a section that develops and mixes all the motivic elements in a flurry of metrical and rhythmic games. As another example of Barber’s ideas about solo scoring, there is a trumpet call in the organ with cues in the orchestral trumpet part (for performances with an organ lacking a strong trumpet stop).
The middle section begins with a high, quiet chorale for the strings and then yields to a scherzo-like movement featuring the organ in its highest register. Gradually, new ideas enter that seek to push aside the initial theme. What has begun with a certain degree of lightness and innocence becomes more restive, and even violent. A brief respite appears in a calm theme for the quartet of trumpets, but the growing upheaval reasserts itself and brings the section to a brief fortississimo conclusion.
Orchestration: 4 flutes (3rd & 4th = piccolo), 4 oboes (4th = English horn), 4 clarinets (3rd = E-flat clarinet; 4th = bass clarinet), 4 bassoons (4th = contrabassoon), 6 horns, 4 trumpets, 4 trombones, tuba, timpani, percussion (crotales, glockenspiel, vibraphone, xylophone, triangles, suspended cymbals, Chinese cymbal, gong, guiro, temple blocks, wood blocks, log drums, timpano, bass drums), piano, harp, The final section is an aria for soprano, a setting of Federico García Lorca’s “Sleepwalking Ballad” organ, strings, and solo soprano in the beautiful English translation by the late Irish poet Michael Hartnett. Lorca’s poetry is First Los Angeles Philharmonic performance: especially notable for its beguiling combination November 20, 2014, Gustavo Dudamel conducting, with soprano Heidi Stober (world premiere) of vivid depiction and surreal imagery. This poem tells of desire, recklessness, and loss. One Stephen Hartke’s Symphony No. 4 was commis- commentator has interpreted it as a vision at the sioned by Edward Halvajian for the Los Angeles very instant of death. I have placed it here as both Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Society of a commentary on and a working out of the Orange County. The score is dedicated to Gustavo drama set forth in the two previous sections. Dudamel and the Los Angeles Philharmonic. – Stephen Hartke 3