Symphony No. 3 (Bax)
It is scored for 3 flutes (1 doubling piccolo), 2 oboes, 4 clarinets, 1 bass clarinet, 2 bassoons, 1 double bassoon, 4 horns, 3 trumpets, 3 trombones, tuba, timpani, bass drum, tenor drum, snare drum, tambourine, cymbals, gong, xylophone, glockenspiel, celesta, anvil, 2 harps and strings.
Unlike his first two symphonies the third is "gentle rather than somber in character, dominated by the spirit of Northern legends which, Bax acknowledges, influenced him subconsciously".
It is in three movements:
- Lento moderato – Allegro moderato – Lento moderato – Allegro moderato
- Moderato – Piu mosso – Tempo I – Epilogue
The opening movement begins with a soft bassoon solo which introduces the main melodic theme. The clarinet then joins the bassoon, followed by other instruments of the woodwind section in a relatively short lento moderato opening section. An accelerando then introduces the allegro moderato section which is based upon the opening melody from the bassoon. There is a long slow section in the middle of the movement before the allegro moderato material eventually returns at the conclusion.
The dreamy and calm second movement begins with a solo horn introducing the main motive. Throughout the movement there are many other brass solos (particularly trumpet), and the form of the movement is relatively simple. It closes peacefully and beautifully.
The finale opens with a gong and repeated notes from the strings and woodwinds, which is then transformed into the main theme. The mood is inescapably optimistic, as though to exorcise the dark and wild moods of the first and second symphonies. It ends in a famous, peaceful and beautiful epilogue which makes a suitable close to the journey of the first three symphonies—which are in many ways linked, and are a cycle of their own.
- David Ewen (1968). The World of Twentieth-Century Music. Prentice-Hall. p. 48.