A Review of Christopher Schlegel's Symphony #5 in G# Minor

G. Stolyarov II

A Journal for Western Man-- Issue XXXVI-- June 21, 2005

Mr. Schlegel’s fifth symfony was written with the intent to demonstrate a serious, purpose-driven mood throughout, and apply it to the theme of “overcoming adversity.” By employing both forceful minor and radiant major, Mr. Schlegel is able to portray every facet of this topic, in both struggle and triumf. Thus, the listener is treated to yet another contemporary work that is capable of employing impeccable rationality to convey a crucial facet of the human condition.

Movement 1: Serioso

As the title suggests, this movement is not a light-hearted one; the main theme is written in an intense minor key, and often transitions into developments written in a major key that is no less strong. An extremely tight melodic structure conveys the impression of meticulous focus on the part of an individual who would display a mindset comparable to that portrayed by this movement. There is always an abundance of instruments present, with the strings dominating the melody, often accompanied by large selections of brass and percussion. Mr. Schlegel seldom interrupts the string voices in this movement, even though he changes other instrumental accompaniments frequently. This gives the piece a consistent sense of purpose throughout; a single aim or endeavor, represented by the string voices, is perpetuated amid a variety of settings and conditions. At the end of the ninth minute, the melody undertakes its most ambitious crescendo, as the main string voice rises to a culmination, which indicates either the accomplishment of the serious man’s purpose, or the call for even greater endeavors, requiring even more focus and intensity.

Movement 2: Adagio Lamentoso; Allegro Risoluto

This movement begins at a slower tempo than the previous, but the same tight, focused melodic quality is retained, along with the intensity of the minor key. String instruments also feature dominantly here, and furnish smooth, occasional transitions into major which convey the overall impression that this movement is not about despair or misery, but rather seriousness and determination. While the first movement could have been compared to the accomplishment of serious tasks, this one is more akin to the contemplation of serious subjects; there is less of a hurry, but more delving into the objects of one’s thought. But contemplation can only last so long before leading to action. At the beginning of the fourth minute, the tempo changes dramatically, as does the key, which becomes predominantly major. The listener now experiences a swift, monumental, crescendoing melody primarily characterized by string and percussion instruments, a combination that gives it both smoothness of flow and a highly structured, rhythmic quality. The “adagio” part returns in the middle of the sixth minute; Mr. Schlegel here demonstrates again his technique of alternating the two major elements of a given movement, rather than offering them as one whole part after another.  Yet there is more volume and abundance of instruments in the second “adagio” part than had existed in the first, which then makes its subsequent transition to “allegro” even more logical, as if the former part had been gradually leading up to the latter. The melody ends on a major note, indicating the result that a consistent seriousness of purpose might bring about, accomplishment and happiness for the individual.

Movement 3: Presto

This movement, which Mr. Schlegel describes as one of his overall favorites, is the type of triumfant fanfare without which no Schlegel symfony would be complete. It is composed in a radiant major, and its forward movement could be best compared to a quick gallop. In the fourth minute occasional bits of minor reappear, but they are more a reminiscence of obstacles already conquered rather than present impediments to the mood of the work. Mr. Schlegel’s use of the rise and fall of volume in this movement allows for moments of crescendo, which indicate triumf and accomplishment to a degree that even exceeds the norm for such fenomena. The motion conveyed in this movement might cause one to think of a general on horseback, surveying the battlefield right after winning his greatest victory.

Movement 4: Allegro Vivace

In this movement, the intense minor returns; the fanfare at the beginning is just the prelude to the rapid-fire string and percussion melody that dominates this work. Swift up-and-down string passages convey a sense of urgency and struggle in this movement, as if one is engulfed by adversity on all sides and must now seek to overcome it. Yet the main melody in this movement is never broken, and the sense of resolve conveyed thereby never falters. This movement also employs a significant contrast of simultaneously carrying forward extremely high and extremely low melodies, sometimes both in the strings, at other times—with one of the parts being played by brass or wind instruments. This further adds to the impression of struggle in all areas—the mood is one of an individual confronted with… everything at once, and his need to endure in such circumstances.

By ending this symfony in the midst of unprecedented struggle, Mr. Schlegel shows that the rational man’s battle with adversity is not over yet; he will win victories along the way, but there is always more to be overcome. Yet, no matter what the obstacles, success can be his, and he can earn himself moments of glory and greatness, much like the third movement, provided that he maintains his seriousness and sense of purpose.

G. Stolyarov II is a science fiction novelist, independent filosofical essayist, poet, amateur mathematician and composer, contributor to organizations such as Le Quebecois Libre, Enter Stage Right, the Autonomist, and Objective Medicine. Mr. Stolyarov is the Editor-in-Chief of The Rational Argumentator. He can be contacted at gennadystolyarovii@yahoo.com.

Christopher Schlegel is a musician and composer of Objectivist convictions. He is additionally a writer of short fiction and essays, and a contributor to The Rational Argumentator and its store. You can also visit his website (http://www.truthagainsttheworld.com) and contact him by e-mail.

If you are interested in purchasing a CD of Mr. Schlegel's Symphonies # 1 & 2, send a check or money order for $10.00 to:

Schlegel Entertainment
1995 Old State Route 76
 McKenzie, TN 38201

This TRA feature has been edited in accordance with TRA's Statement of Policy.

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Learn about Mr. Stolyarov's novel, Eden against the Colossus, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's comprehensive treatise, A Rational Cosmology, explicating such terms as the universe, matter, space, time, sound, light, life, consciousness, and volition, here.

Read Mr. Stolyarov's four-act play, Implied Consent, a futuristic intellectual drama on the sanctity of human life, here.

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