Matthew Taylor composed Symphony No.4 between August 2015 and September 2016, in memory of his friend John McCabe and thus dedicated to John’s widow Monica.
“John and I shared many musical enthusiasms, Haydn and Nieslen in particular and both of these composers made an impact on this work: there is an attempt to create a Nieslenesque sweep at the start of the first movement and the finale includes a few pranks which Haydn might have enjoyed. However, there is little that is consciously elegiac in character as I have always felt that the best way to pay tribute is to adopt an approach that is essentially celebratory in spirit. In fact No.4 is arguably my most friendly symphony so far.
This symphony is a large one movement work which falls into three parts . The first starts with a vigorous sweep of energy which gradually broadens and intensifies before easing into an expansive often inwardly expressive slow movement. The final part acknowledges the influence of Haydn and Prokofiev and culminates in a return of the opening music, this time enforced with two pairs of timpani, part of an inextinguishable tradition when composing fourth symphonies.”. Matthew Taylor
Exposure to the Beethoven's Fifth at the age of about five was undoubtedly one of the defining moments in my life. I was instantly knocked sideways by the power and expressive force of this music. Now, almost fifty years later, the life force of Beethoven's music is a massive influence when writing large scale instrumental works.
Taylor’s Fifth Symphony is the composers first in four movements. The mood is predominantly combative and strenuous though there are moments where it opens up to introduce more expansive, lyrical ideas. The reprise is more compressed and leads to very volatile coda which culminates in a timpani cadenza at the end.
Taylor's 5th Symphony amply reinforces his reputation as a symphonist of real stature...
Richard Whitehouse, Musical Opinion