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The first movement of The Sylvan Symphony is in twelve-eight. It begins with a bassoon playing the primary theme accompanied by a rich bed of strings. At bar nine, a trombone adds counterpoint and bass viols are added to the harmonic accompaniment. In the 17th bar, the second strain of the main theme is presented by a solo trumpet accompanied by a snare and two woodwinds (wooden flute and clarinet panned in stereo) playing a figure based on the third bar of the second strain. At the 25th bar, a plethora of instruments begin taking turns developing various sections of the main theme. During this section, the strings perform a pizzicato accompaniment and the snare continues playing. At bar 37, the snare stops and is replaced by talking drums and finger cymbals that accompany a series of call and answer figures based on a variation of the third bar of the second strain. This section continues for sixteen bars, and then in bar 53, the variation in the preceeding section is played in harmonies by woodwinds as a solo soprano trumpet plays a variation of the entire eight bars of the second strain. The horn section then plays a final melodic line and the movement then comes to an end.
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