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MP3 Jerry Gerber - Moon Festival

Janet Campbell''s voice is gorgeous and I always enjoy working with her. This music was composed and produced in 2001 and encompasses three different types of digital orchestration styles.

18 MP3 Songs
ELECTRONIC: Virtual Orchestra, CLASSICAL: Contemporary

A recording is an illusion. No real orchestra plays behind the speakers. The conductor''s baton is still. But as the disk spins, a virtual orchestra is recreated from its captured image.

On "Moon Festival," Jerry Gerber has mastered the illusion. Composer, performer, conductor, and producer, he uses software-and credits it, as he would a performer-to cast an orchestral spell with a virtual orchestra. But more than a physical ensemble, Gerber''s virtual orchestra is unambiguously and often untraditionally placed, spatially lustrous, magically colorful, and able to express the nuances of his music in fine detail ... because the virtual orchestra is Gerber himself.

In Patterns, we''re awakened from silence by a precise fanfare that for a fleeting moment suggests too much perfection. And then we are taken. Instead of bursts of electrons, we hear variations on the opening fanfare, changing moods, in lush chromatic harmonies. Curiously, the character darkens (or perhaps cools) from the opening outburst, departing with an unsettling, fragmented, almost Mahleresque exhalation into a final minor chord. The illusion is complete.

But the human voice is another matter. Someday, perhaps, a Seven of Nine will be able to provide the expressiveness of Janet Campbell. But in the meantime, virtual orchestra shaman Jerry Gerber must modify his contract with us for an illusion; humans cannot yet be fooled by the imitation of their own biological instrument.

The centerpiece of "Moon Festival," Five Songs on the Poetry of Tu-Fu, employs an orchestra of Celtic harp and Japanese koto, English horn and Bolivian sicu, Chinese erhu and Western solo strings, natural sound effects, and an immense but delicate percussion battery to create a convincing Eastern atmosphere. It is, in fact, in this accompaniment role to Campbell''s ringing mezzo that reveals the colorful orchestrational marvel of Gerber''s virtual orchestra. Forgetting to concentrate on it, we settle into its variegated bedstraw of colors in modal harmony.

Moon Festival introduces the set with a kind of formal rusticness-as well as Campbell in consummate duet with herself. The wind blows past and after a moment, the birds fleetingly introduce Night in the House by the River, with its constantly changing moods, colors, and longing; the word painting is direct and unashamed. The mysterious string counterpoint that opens Loneliness is joined by plaintive woodwinds, and then a shift from one singing voice to two and back again. To Pi Ssu Yao is an romp, full of percussive energy, the most ''art song''-like of the set: ironic, and funny. The fragmented accompaniment of strings and winds, almost one with the percussion of Homecoming Late Night, pushes the song forward, and then into silence.

Completing "Moon Festival" is the Piano Suite. Modeled on the classic impressionist suites with a good bit of Stravinsky looking over its shoulder, the Suite''s twelve movements are named for the months of the year. Nodding to their forebears, these baroque-like dances and marches are propelled by energetic left-hand rhythms, some handsomely foursquare and others, such as the last one, with a broken Bartok-like irregularity of 3+3+2.

Did I say energetic left-hand rhythms? Flipping back through the booklet and seeing only two faces, it''s hard to remember that there was no left hand that started this illusion-only Jerry Gerber''s virtual orchestra.

- Dennis Báthory-Kitsz

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