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JERRY GERBER: Symphony No. 12 for the Virtual Orchestra. Quartet for Virtual Strings OTTAVA 23-017 (54:15)


Jerry Gerber is an American composer whose works are presented via computer-generated sound files. In past issues of Fanfare I’ve both reviewed several recordings of Gerber’s music, and interviewed the composer. This has proven to be a most rewarding experience. Jerry Gerber’s music is defined by several admirable qualities. His compositions are tonal, melodic, and feature a compelling manipulation of thematic material. Gerber favors a rich, transparent, and kaleidoscopic instrumental palette. Gerber’s works also embody a keen and unerring sense of momentum and direction. And like many American composers, Jerry Gerber embraces the opportunity to incorporate a wide range of musical influences and styles, both classical and popular.

These elements once again imbue Jerry Gerber’s latest recording, The Darker Side of Light. Gerber’s Symphony No. 12 for the Virtual Orchestra is in four movements. The first is based throughout upon a yearning, ascending motif that journeys, in various guises, across the orchestra. Indeed, this motif forms the backbone of the entire work. If the first movement is in the tradition of classic symphonic expression, the second movement scherzo, with its pulsating rhythms and arresting presence of synthesizers, extends a bridge to popular dance. In the contemplative third movement, a virtual chorus sings a text composed by Gerber that reads in part: “You make or destroy your soul by love or fear,/and govern your fate with every choice you make.” The pulsating finale, with its irresistible lure of the dance, suggests the choice made is life-affirming. In the four movements of the Quartet for Virtual Strings, Gerber fashions his multicolored instrumental palette via the use of a variety of bowed and plucked techniques. Once again, the four movements present a compelling contrast of emotions. Most striking is the slow-tempo third movement, anchored by a repeated figure in the lower strings, and bearing a kinship to Shostakovich’s heartrending passacaglias. But the entire work, like the Symphony No. 12, is expressive and compelling.                                                                    

Recommended. Ken Meltzer

Four stars: Compelling works for virtual instruments, by Jerry Gerber


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