32 part chorus
This excerpt features an extended choral passage where they divide from their usual 8 parts into 16 parts and then into 32 parts.
A quiet mysterious opening reaches a first climax at 1’32” at which point the lower strings start a rocking figure in parallel fourths which emerges from under the receding choir. Additional layers join up thorugh the strings until we have 10 stacked fourths and a nasty shout from percussion, piano & strings at 1’44”. A return to pleasenter stuff leads to the start of the choral passage at 2’12” at first in 8 parts and then 16 parts at 2’38”. I’ve rendered this passage, and much of this section, as quietly as possible. There’s a five part male chorus moment at 3’13” marked “[i]ferme bouche[/i]” . The VSL chorus samples don’t have ferme bouche (humming) samples so I’ve used “ooohs” instead of “aaahs” which I think works as a nice contrast. After another climax at 4’08” the 32 part chorus kicks in. As 32 staves of Sorabji’s manuscript paper were taken up with the choir the orchestral writing is very thin and for much of the time the chorus is acapella. The density of the writing is extreme and it’s hard to make sense of it. The best tactic (as is so often the case in this symphony) is to let the glorious sound wash over you. At 6’45” the chorus returns to 16 parts and the orchestra thickens out. A gradual build up leads to a climax at 7’40” and another return of the mighty organ and a signature passage which occurs several times throught the whole symphony, a “hallelujah” grand joyous noise for everyone.