Symphony No. 4 “Adagio”
On commercial CD releases, this one-part composition is usually divided into five tracks in accordance with tempo indications: Adagio, Più animato, Tempo I, Allegro and Tempo II, with Tempi I and II as returns of the Adagio. These terms refer not only to tempi, but also – as in the title of the symphony) – to the symphonic idiom. Interpretations of the work point to its formal resemblance to the sonata form’s organising scheme, which presents, transforms and brings back mutually contrasted themes in exposition, development and reprise.
Following this suggestion, we can distinguish in the symphony – following
musicologist Mieczysław Tomaszewski – the solemn, majestic initial theme and
the profoundly reflective final theme, which first appears poco largamente e
tranquillo in a dialogue of the cellos, as well as secondary themes derived
from these two, including the demonic, grotesque, scherzo-like musical idea in Più
animato. Despite the changing
moods, the narration develops smoothly, punctuated by local culminations, and
leads to the culmination proper in Tempo II, which recapitulates the
thematic and motivic material used throughout the piece. In the hushed finale,
the final theme returns melancholically in the oboe.