New Complete Performance of 2nd Movement (June 2012)

This new performance of the second movement uses exclusively samples from the wonderful Vienna Symphonic Library and their full DVD collections.

The Sibelius score communicates directly with the VSL samples through the VSL software Vienna Ensemble Pro 5 (VEP5). Each instrument (stave) in the score is ‘played’ through a “Vienna Instrument Pro 2” (VIP2) hosted within VEP5. The ambience/reverb is provided by the extraordinary Vienna MIR Pro (VMP). I have used the Vienna Konzerthaus Stage with the microphone position in the 15th row.

One of the main differences in the process this time is I have incorporated a clever software plugin to Sibelius called “Sound Sets” (created by the VSL team) which means the music directly triggers the correct sample patch. So that a legato line triggers legato samples, a sfz marking triggers notes played sforzato, tremolo lines trigger tremolo samples, trill lines trigger trill samples etc etc. This means I don’t have to have additional staves attached to each instrument littered with midi commands. It is not completely comprehensive but covers almost all articulation possibilities and any not incorporated I can still use via appropriate midi commands.

I still have to make enormous amounts of changes to the notation to ensure a more realistic and musical performance. For instance brass players faced with a string of quavers will by default play them detached or even staccato whereas Sibelius will play them for their exact duration. And of course Sorabji includes very few playing instructions or expression marks so I have had to import my own interpretation and playing techniques to ensure the correct sample patch gets played.

Whilst a live performance would require approximately 150 instrumentalists and a large double chorus (say 300 at least). The number of virtual instruments needed was 71. With the necessary samples loaded into each virtual instrument the amount of RAM used for this performance was just short of 20 GBs (of my available 24GBs). Much more would have meant my PC becoming unstable. With the performance at its maximum volume and complexity my i7 Extreme quad core processor, which has been overclocked to 4ghz, was pushing temperatures at about 80 degrees so again at just about its limit. (I’ve recently installed a high end water cooler as experiments with the previous stock fan cooler had temperatures getting up to 100 degrees).

So it has just been possible to do the “small” 2nd movement with my current set up but I would still not be able to undertake the larger movements which would require nearer 100 virtual instruments and an upgrade to 48GBs of RAM and ideally a dual processor server type PC. Having several Solid State Drives to handle the massive sample database would also be ideal but those two upgrades would cost several thousand pounds at current prices.

This performance has much more “interpretation” than the previous one. It comes in at over a minute longer at 21 minutes. I have varied the tempi throughout the movement and added rubato here and there. I have widely used my discretion in respect of dynamics, phrasing and articulations. There are still some limitations with VSL. They do not have muted French horns so largely indications to mute have been ignored but I have used some stopped horn sounds where I thought this worked musically. Another annoying VSL omission is string glissandos. Fortunately there was only three brief instances in this movement (other movements make extensive use them) and I have had to make compromises. Some of Sorabji’s extreme instrumental ranges go outside the VSL recorded range so some compromises where used. You’d have to have a keen ear and eye on the score to spot them though.

I think this music is very exciting and excellently composed.

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