1. William Grant Still: Symphony No. 3 ‘Sunday Symphony’: I. The Awakening
Why not start your workout at a slightly gentler pace? The first movement of William Grant Still’s Symphony No. 3 is characterised by a sense of buoyant optimism, with a distinctly American feel and jazz-infused harmonies. It’s march-like rhythms make it the ideal music for a brisk walk.
To ramp up the intensity of your workout, try the first movement of Orff’s Carmina Burana, ‘O Fortuna’. The sheer power of the magnificent wall of sound that opens this choral masterpiece is bound to inspire strength and endurance. The forceful effect of the choral piece is maintained as the music settles into a groove with its relentlessly percussive accompaniment.
Direttore d’Orchestra/Andrea Bettistoni
3. Steve Reich: Music for 18 Musicians
To get you in the zone, Steve Reich’s Music for 18 Musicians exudes an almost meditative atmosphere with pulsating rhythms and gradually shifting harmonies, bringing an extra level of focus to your workout.
Eighth Blackbird/Third Coast Percussion/Meehan Perkins Duo
4. Tchaikovsky: Symphony No. 4, IV. Finale. Allegro con fuoco
This movement starts with a bang with a cymbal crash and a downward spiralling orchestral flourish. The relentless rising and falling scalic figures in the strings – a feature throughout the work – initially drive the music forward towards an uplifting, fanfare-like orchestral statement, perfect for some mid-workout motivation. The grandiose climax of the work, played by the horns, quotes the opening theme of the symphony, providing the opportunity for a quick breather before the grand finale.
With its folk influences, Copland’s lively ‘Hoe-down’ from Rodeo is the perfect choice to put a spring in your step. The piece makes use of two American square-dance tunes, the main theme of the work coming from a traditional folk song called ‘Bonaparte’s Retreat’ by William H Step.
If you’re looking for something high in energy to help you push through the final stages of your workout, the sabre dance from Khachaturian’s Gayane Suite No. 3 ought to do the trick. Driven forward by a motoric engine of percussion and strings, the frantic-sounding main theme is answered by raucous trombone glissandos. There is some respite in the movement’s middle section before Khachaturian amps up the energy again as the main theme returns in a frenzied race to the finish.