Symphony Saturday

At last, the kinda-sorta weekly feature returns!

I’ve been listening to this symphony a lot of late. I find it a very compelling work, with a wealth of Romantic melody, vigorous orchestration, and quite a bit of pleasing energy. It’s also a mainly forgotten work, by composer John Knowles Paine. A big focus in this series has been to listen to a good many works of music that don’t deserve the obscurity into which they have faded, and Paine’s Symphony No. 2 certainly is that. Subtitled “In Spring”, the symphony is in four titled movements:

I. Adagio sostenuto: “Departure of Winter”; Allegro ma non troppo: “Awakening of Nature”
II. Scherzo Allegro: “May-Night Fantasy”
III. Adagio: “A Romance of Springtime”
IV. Allegro giojoso: “The Glory of Nature”

This is one of the most genial works I have ever heard, which is one reason I keep returning to it. There is some occasional brooding to the music, but the brooding invariably gives way to song and optimism. Perhaps that’s in keeping with the symphony’s vernal inspiration, and I for one find it hard to hear the last movement singing its heart out and not feel something of that optimism myself.

What a wonderful symphony this is!

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