by David Matthews

chamber orchestra
Chamber Orchestra
2(II=picc).2.2.2 - 4200 - timp (4 drums) - strings (min. 65432)

Commissioned by the English Chamber Orchestra to mark its 35th Anniversary with funds from the Arts Council of England and the ECO Music Society Dedicated to Colin, on his 70th birthday, with love and admiration

First Performance
12.3.96, Barbican Hall, London: English Chamber Orchestra/Pinchas Zukerman

Study score 0-571-55472-5 (fp) on sale, full score and parts for hire

Programme Notes

I wrote the original version of Sinfonia in 1995 for the English Chamber Orchestra, who commissioned it to mark their 35th anniversary, and it was premiered by them at the Barbican Hall in London in March 1996. At the time I was dissatisfied with the piece, and it has not been performed again. But apart from a few minor revisions I did nothing with it until the summer of 2015 when I decided to rewrite it; in doing so I cut out over two minutes of music, and also made considerable alterations to the musical texture, including the addition of an extra pair of horns to the orchestra. When I was asked to compose the piece, my original intention was to write an overture. Concert overtures, however, normally have some programmatic content, which this piece does not. So I decided on ‘Sinfonia’, which implies a relation with classical sonata form. The piece begins with a substantial introduction, featuring many of the instruments as soloists. In the main Allegro, purely rhythmic material (with prominent timpani) is contrasted with more lyrical music (for the strings) and this juxtaposition provokes an energetic development and a modified recapitulation. There is a coda in a more flamboyantly lyrical style, and Sinfonia ends with the bitonal chord on which it began. I have dedicated this new version to my brother Colin on his 70th birthday, with love and admiration.

© DM

Licensing Information

News & Reviews

'Sinfonia' review

After a slow introduction that spotlights various instruments in turn comes a syncopated aggressively rhythmic allegro, powered by rocketing timpani. A broader final section is launched with a Bergian efflorescence over an E flat bass. But it is F major that finally establishes hegemony, albeit approached by a remarkable harmonic sequence. I look forward to hearing the Sinfonia again… The Times (Barry Millington), 11 October 1988 Read more

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