|Publisher||Orchard Music Ltd|
Conductor's score, A3 format, spiral bound.
Although Christopher Gunning is best known for his film and television work, for which he has won four BAFTA awards (for La Vie en rose, Agatha Christie's Poirot, Middlemarch, and Porterhouse Blue) and three Ivor Novello awards (for Rebecca, Under Suspicion, and Firelight) he has gradually been adding to a substantial is of concert works, to which he now devotes all of his time.
Christopher Gunning attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where his tutors included Brian Trowell, James Gibb, Edmund Rubbra and Richard Rodney Bennett. His compositions for the concert hall include nine symphonies and a number of concertos.
The theme of journeying is carried through to my 7th Symphony. Like the 6th, the music is continuous but this time falls into six main sections, or "phases," all founded in various ways on the rising whole-tone scale heard at the very start. I had in mind a long challenging journey; you can imagine the ascent of a high mountain, or something more psychological - fortunately music can hardly ever be specific and surely one of the joys of listening is that everybody brings their own life experiences to bear.
Phase one is slow and thoughtful, which you could regard as waking from sleep and pondering the task ahead. A far more active phase follows, mostly optimistic with hints of something heroic. With phase three we enter a mysterious, foggy world with the blurred outlines of mysterious shapes. Phase four, by contrast, is relentlessly rhythmic with a steady pulse, becoming ever more dramatic; the idea of struggling against formidable odds was uppermost in my mind. A short break in tension follows, a prelude to a return of the optimistic music heard in phase two. Again this subsides and the thoughtful, quiet opening music returns briefly. This proves to be preparation for the final main section, with its confirmation of A Major, and the summit. At the very end, we hear the quiet rising scales from the opening, this time high in the violins; is this exhaustion? Or perhaps a hollow victory? You decide…"
"The Seventh Symphony is an even finer work than the Sixth, although its opening pages struck me as being a risky undertaking for the composer in that the material is not so clearly organic in its flow, but the attentive listener will find their attention held by Gunning's imaginative juxtaposition of that varied and unexpected material. He follows the relatively brief opening with an extended section of very slow-moving music, from which the emergence of a rhythmic figure - such as pervaded the Sixth Symphony - gradually generates a welcome contrast of pace and texture.
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