home | recordings | compositions | press | services | instruction | articles | studio | biography | credits | links


J. GERBER Symphony No. 9 for Virtual Orchestra. More than Matter. Lucid: Dream For. Son to the Universe, Raga   Jerry Gerber (syn);  OTTAVA 15-013 (51:52)


The remarkable thing about Jerry Gerber and his music for “virtual orchestra” is the sheer variety he achieves. Although I have covered some of his symphonies before (No. 10 in Fanfare 45:5 and No. 8 in Fanfare 45:6), this one (No. 9) fascinates the most. The sheer energy and scope of the first movement is remarkable. Gerber uses two sound libraries (Vienna Instruments Symphonic Cube and Requiem Professional) alongside EZ Drummer (which gets a fair amount of use) plus four others. Those passages featuring a synthesized snare-drum put me in mind of Shostakovich; others perhaps Dukas, still others Hollywood film scores.

The Ninth Symphony is proportioned in a traditional symphonic way, with the outer movements the longest and two shorter ones in between. No tempo indications are given, simply first movement, second movement and so on. Behind all this is a sure sense of form: the end of the first movement is carefully plotted and achieved, before the shifting colors of the second movement take over, a slightly trippy sound kaleidoscope with a more reflective, slightly ominous, slower section at its heart before the momentum returns, but initially colored by that central section before it eventually attains a lightness of gait that imagine Mendelssohn might have achieved, had he had access to sound libraries.

A soprano and a tenor feature in the third movement (I assume electronically generated also, but the sound is remarkably realistic). This is the slow, beating heart of the symphony, full of dark beauty. The recording supports the bass lines well; some might find it spot lit, although that would be part of the process I imagine. The finale is zany, like a fast-moving mosaic of color: a fast ride in an electronic machine, as it were, but once more Gerber’s structural sense is spot-on, with the tension ratcheting up nicely for the close.

The piece More than Matter is emotionally very different: darker, far more introspective than any part of the symphony. The piece only lasts around four minutes but manages to cover vast territory. Underpinning it all seems to be a fast pulsing, like a fibrillating heartbeat. That pulsing, more foregrounded, returns in the decidedly more fragmented Lucid:Dream For (poem Candy Shue); and there is a lovely moment where the poem talks of an instant of hush, at which Gerber imitates the sound of an orchestra tuning. The piece is all too brief; I for one would have liked more. Instead, Song to the Universe is for piano, strings and synthesizer and employs sinewy, chromatic thematic content. This is what electronically-generated chamber music sounds like; and it ends up being really quite stimulating and uplifting.

Finally, Raga, with its references to Indian music. There is certainly a rawness of invention here, unstoppable, that equates with the momentum of much Indian Classical music. It works, and brilliantly. I wonder if Gerber will further explore this inter-cultural idea in the future; it seems to be a very fertile avenue indeed.

It seems to be impossible not to like this music, whatever ideological doubts or objections one might bring to the table. And Gerber’s firmest riposte to those objections lies, of course, in his music, always expertly conceived and realized.

Colin Clarke

 Four stars: It seems to be impossible not to like this music, whatever ideological doubts one might have.


  home | recordings | compositions | press | services | instruction | articles | studio | biography | credits | links