1. Sherwood Forest: Introduction - Allegro
2. Clifton Group: Largo
3. Castle Rock: Allegro molto
4. Goose Fair: Allegro moderato
This Symphony was commissioned by the Nottingham Co-operative Society for the Quincentenary of the Royal Charter of the city of Nottingham, which was celebrated in 1949.
It has four movements, each named after a place in Nottingham associated with a different aspect of the life and history of its citizens.
The key of the Symphony is G major. The four movements are in G major, E major, C minor and G major respectively. The broad formal structure of the movements follows classical lines, but in detail they differ from the classical style, in that they are composed in thematic style, that is to say, the various elements of which melody, harmony and bass are composed, all possess thematic character, as well as being organised harmonically and rhythmically.
Movement 1: This is entitled 'Sherwood Forest' and is devoted to the memory of Robin Hood and the sunny open spaces of Sherwood Forest. It is in sonata form with an introduction. The horn call at the start of the introduction and the continuation of this on flutes, clarinets and bassoons set the mood of the entire movement. The first phrase of the principal subject appears on the higher strings; the second phrase repeats the first in a modified form, and the third introduces a different melodic and rhythmic figure on woodwind, suggestive of galloping horsemen. Two passages of development, in which the horn subject is prominent, suggest the Sheriff's cavalcade. An energetic climax leads back to the recapitulation section, in which the rather idyllic picture of the forest dwellers' life is recalled afresh. The movement ends lightly in the gayest good humour.
Movement 2: This is entitled 'Clifton Grove', and is in abridged sonata form with an introduction. The introduction, a sustained richly harmonised passage on the whole body of strings, quietly sonorous, slow moving with gentle surges and small ripples on the horns and wood-wind, suggests the broad peaceful flow of the River Trent at Clifton Grove. The introduction leads to the principal, which takes the form of a duet between cello and clarinet soli, accompanied by the rest of the orchestra. A second subject has passages of dense harmony on the strings, which alternate with tender and passionate phrases. The climax of this section dissolves into a murmurous suggestion of birdsong in the Grove, leading back to the recapitulation of the duet theme. This reappears in a shortened form and finishes the movement, which dies peacefully away.
Movement 3: This is the Scherzo of the Symphony and entitled 'Castle Rock'; it is a moto perpetuo and suggests its heroic history. The agitated quaver movement continues without interruption throughout. The first section is a passacaglia with a five bar long subject. A second subject has longer note values in a regular five-four rhythm, suggesting a wild dance. Instead of the Trio of the classical Scherzo form, there now follows a fugato, starting in C sharp minor, developed from the passacaglia subject. This leads straight back into the recapitulation section, now treated in a still wilder and more frenzied manner, and ends the movement in a triumphant conclusion.
Movement 4: This is entitled 'Goose Fair' and recalls the gay crowds at the annual fair. It is in the form of a sonata movement with an introduction. The introduction gives an atmosphere of animation and confusion through the simultaneous presentation of a number of different thematic motives. The principal subject is a festal march theme, the first phrase of which is given to the trumpet solo, the answering phrases to the violins; this is then repeated with an instrumentation reminiscent of a military band. The flowing first theme of the second subject is introduced, given largely to the strings. It is followed immediately by the second theme of the second subject, appearing in the woodwind, which evolves first into a graceful dance, then into the broad and stately closing section of the exposition. The movement ends with contrapuntal passages, which lead to monumental climaxes. The second climax recalls the beginning of the second subject of the slow movement (Clifton Grove), emphasising its lyrical and passionate character by the addition of a solo violin melody and deep trills on the clarinet. This reminiscence is rudely dispelled by the sudden return of the principal subject. A shortened recapitulation follows. The closing section is somewhat lengthened and made more joyous and triumphant by the sound of bells. The Symphony ends in a mood of purposeful optimism.