Vespers recording, Day Four

The last day:

  1. After the intense final session with the choir, Thursday is for Piffaro alone, to get the last two instrumental sections done
  2. O süßer Herre Jesu Christ is a child-like chorale, set for the whole band on seven recorders, all imitative and inverted and retrograded and augmentated (I mean augmented), all of which I now forget how I worked out, but I know it was painstaking
  3. Two sections, the second homophonic, Tom leading from Alto I to get the cutoff and entrance just so
  4. The main challenge in this is tuning. Piffaro has quite specific ways they tune, depending on the era of the music. The entire Vespers was a melange of listening and adjusting for them, as it goes in and out of modality and tonality, in and out of simple and complex chordal structures. Voice-leading was constantly in the forefront of my thinking.
  5. Chords with seconds (I write lots of those, it seems) are a new experience for them. Playing them is not a challenge; tuning them is not a challenge; deciding which way to tune them (out of two, three, six different ways?) is.
  6. Nun danket, the triple canon, comes last, and at last! We decide I might as well conduct it. They can play it, but it’ll cut down on the recording time.
  7. Six recorders and sackbut for this. Greg can make the sackbut take on any role: a hero, an ingenue, a flute, even…his musicality is eye-popping. His ff subito 16th-note run at the end of Deo gratias, up to G, was as big, bright, open, clear, hammered, and light as I could wish, plus he did it that way about 38 times in a row.
  8. Sopranos are in 6/8, in canon at the 3rd; tenors are in 4/4 in a perpetual canon at the fifth; bass and great bass are playing the chorale in 3/2 in octaves, in canon with the sackbut at the octave (actually in the same sounding range as the great bass, since all recorders sound an octave up)
  9. I conduct it in 3/2. Basically they have to ignore me and play their own mensuration, and I have to not mess them up. Because it’s so intricate, once you lose the line it’s pretty certain you won’t find your way back in. Mostly I try to be a strict metronome, but I give cues when I can, and am astonished to see them looking at me. How do they do that?
  10. This makes me nervous.
  11. They pretty much get it within the first two takes, but we spend another hour on various things, including different ways to play the O. Henry ending.
  12. I ruin one take because in my too-vigorous cutoff my left hand brushes against my shirt pocket, causing the turnpike receipt encased therein to crumple ever so slightly. Everybody hears it.
  13. One final run-through, even though we have everything. We milk the last silence after the ending. I hold my hands up and hold my breath. At last, Tad’s voice comes through the monitor: “’kay.”
  14. Okay. That’ll do it.
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