The last day:
- After the intense ﬁnal session with the choir, Thursday is for Piffaro alone, to get the last two instrumental sections done
- 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
- Two sections, the second homophonic, Tom leading from Alto I to get the cutoff and entrance just so
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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)
- 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?
- This makes me nervous.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- Okay. That’ll do it.