So Many Violins

Three and a half months since my last post during which I’ve completed a fourth section of just over 20 minutes bringing the total duration completed to 72 minutes of around 120 in 31 weeks suggesting it would take over a year to complete the whole of the third movement. However I’ve also decided to stop for the moment. Whilst I’ve been very excited that I now have the hardware and software to create the quality of virtual performance I want it’s become clear I don’t yet have the mastery of my tools to do it justice. What I have done is a quantum leap better than the first complete performance but I know it could be better and that with a greater understanding of the Vienna Symphonic Library and how to get the best out of it I could control so much better the quality of the sound and the ability to balance the music as I really want. My thoughts about interpretation have also changed since I’ve started.

At the moment I just can’t balance the various instrumental sections, melodic lines, solo moments as I want. There should be moments where the choir say or brass completely dominate the orchestra but I can’t do that to my satisfaction and I’m sure that is because of failings on my part in the way I have set up the software. I’m also sure I can get a better sound, particularly from the strings. So I feel I need to stop what I’m doing and go back to the drawing board with another project to try and learn better the tools of this trade. I’ve thought about finishing the third movement before doing that but that would still take a long time.

So, as this is not going to be my final performance/interpretation I shall let you have the totality of what I have done so far with the third movement. The most recent addition takes us to a pretty big climax. There are three major climaxes in this movement, the first at around 21 minutes the second at 72 minutes and the closing climax each of which gets progressively more massive. I’ve suggested before that the ending of this movement should probably be one of the most massive moments in all orchestral music right up there with Mahler 2 and The Gothic, but for the moment that’s for another day.

The most notable part of the new section is the extended passage where the violins divide into eight parts each i.e. 16 separate violin parts. That starts at 67 minutes in. With the score calling for 48 violins that’s three per part but VSL only gives me 12 player samples, 6 player samples and solo samples so as I’ve used the 12 player samples when the parts are divided into two parts (the majority of the work) and 6-player samples when divided into four parts (a substantial amount of time) I’ve gone for solo violins for the 16-part divisi which works for me. There were some difficulties in getting Sibelius & VSL to play 16 solo violin parts correctly at the same time (neither software was built for such a scenario!) but a work around was found. I had to be careful with the placement and balance to make the transition between two 12 player parts and 16 solo parts sound seamless and natural which I think I largely have done. I may well do another post quite shortly with a detailed musical description of how the 16 violin parts work – just cos I fancy doing that and I would like to get better at describing the music.

But for now here is the first 72 minutes of the third movement in flac and as mp3 – enjoy.

BTW the next project I will do, to improve my skills, is Sorabji’s Chaleur recently completed by Frazer Jarvis who has kindly let me have the Sibelius score.

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