Into the slow movement we went yesterday, and it was another decent session of work on the symphony, getting ever more clear ideas of what should be happening and when, each new detail sparking new details. This movement is really the emotional core of the work, but also acts as an introduction to the finale.
It is also the longest section of the symphony, and I have had to take some deep breaths and simply let it be itself from time to time, because it needs to expand at its own pace. There is a real temptation to wonder if it will bore people by not doing very much for long spans of time, but then I think that it is what it is and that any listeners are committed to the work by that stage.
Besides, the form now works really well, I think, thanks to a road-to-Damascus moment I had a few weeks ago when I realised that I had been approaching the entire movement the wrong way. The new layout, which is something I had previously discounted, now seems to be exactly the right solution, so there is definitely food for thought regarding future work as well.
For many years I have had a Baroque outlook to instrumental composition in terms of form, putting movements together following ritornello principles, in which a certain refrain returns from time to time, but this movement – this symphony, in fact – has turned out to be unexpectedly Classical in its layout, acquiring sonata forms in its formation. There is an interesting blog post to be written at some point about the forms of the first and second movements – interesting only to me, probably – but the third and fourth have also surprised me with where they have ended up.
Progress is good, however, and I feel that every hour I spend on the piece is now something that is taking me nearer to my goal rather than leading me down the occasional dead end. More work to come on this today, and it really does look like the entire work could be finished by the end of the summer, which is very exciting indeed.