Machines and Dreams - A Toy Symphony

Colin Matthews (1946)

Machines and Dreams - A Toy Symphony 1990

picc.2.2.ca.2.bcl.2.cbsn - 4331 - timp - perc(2/3): BD/hi-hat/cyms/2 susp.cym/2 anvil/4 tom-t/tgl/tamb/(vibraslap)/vib/2 tam-t/(flexatone)/ratchet or guiro/glsp/siz.cym - pno - harp - strings
Duration 
15
Solist 
Genre 
Commissioner 
Publisher 

Colin Matthews Machines and Dreams Machines and Dreams was commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra for their 1991 ‘Childhood’ Festival. I was asked to write a contemporary equivalent of the Toy Symphony attributed to Leopold Mozart, and the starting point for the composition was a visit to Hamley’s toyshop with Michael Tilson Thomas, where we bemused the assistants trying out numerous toys for their acoustic properties. The toys eventually chosen for the children’s orchestra in the three ‘machine’ movements (the ‘dreams’ of the title are two interludes for grown-up orchestra alone, which can be omitted) include: in the first movement, toy pianos, car horns and sirens; in the middle movement bird calls; and in the finale a combination of the above with the addition of computer ‘game’ noise-machines, and an extra surprise element. The music for the children’s orchestra is not improvised, but notated throughout: what I particularly hoped to do in this piece was to provide the experience of playing as soloists in front of a large orchestra, and to make the experience and enjoyable one.

Colin Matthews

Performances 
24.1.91 Barbican Hall, London: London Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas
12.2.91 Town Hall, Birmingham: London Symphony Orchestra/Michael Tilson Thomas
6.6.96 Barbican Hall, London: London Symphony Orchestra/André Previn
23.9.01 Bridgewater Hall, Manchester: Hallé Orchestra/Mark Elder
17.2.02 Bridgewater Hall, Manchester: Hallé Orchestra
28/29.11.04 Portland, Oregon, USA: Oregon Symphony Orchestra/Mei-Ann Chen
4.10.09 Lugano, Switzerland: Orchestra della Svizzera Italiana/Olivier Cuendet
3
Flute
3rd piccolo
3
Oboe
3rd cor anglais
3
Clarinet
3rd bass clarinet
3
Bassoon
3rd contrabassoon
4
Horn
3
Trumpet
3
Trombone
1
Tuba
1
Timpani
3
Percussion
bass drum, hi-hat, cymbals, 2 suspended cymbals, 2 anvils, 4 tom-toms, triangle, tambourine, vibraslap, vibraphone, 2 tam-tams, flexatone, ratchet or guiro, glockenspiel, sizzle cymbal
16
Violin
14
Violin II
12
Viola
10
Cello
8
Double bass
1
Harp
1
Piano
1
Other
Toy instruments: 4 toy pianos/ch.bar/motor horns/sirens/fishing-rod reel/metronomes/2 toy guns/bird calls/noise machines/voice changer - football hooligans
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