The Eighth Symphony is scored for what is known as the “Schubert” orchestra: with the addition of a harp. Also there is a large supply of extra percussion, including all the “phones” and “spiels” known to the composer. The first movement, as its title suggests, has been nicknamed “seven variations in search of a theme.” There is indeed no definite theme. The second movement (Scherzo) is, as its title suggests, for wind instruments only; namely, flute, piccolo, two oboes, two clarinets, three bassoons (third ad lib), two horns, two trumpets, and three trombones. In the third movement (Cavatina) the strings take over, thus giving the wind a well-earned rest. The fourth movement, Toccata, besides full strings and wind, commandeers all the available hitting instruments that can make definite notes, including glockenspiel, celesta, xylophone, vibraphone, tubular bells, and tunable gongs.
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