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Brahms for Orchestra - Piano Sonata No.2, Movt.2

Discussion in 'Critique & Feedback' started by Sam Miller, Sep 11, 2018.

  1. #1 Sam Miller, Sep 11, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
    Seeing the performers' disdain for unrealistic orchestration (during the Brass Masterclass) hit a little too close to home. I don't want to be 'that composer.' This is my first serious attempt at orchestrating something that would work live. I'd love to get some feedback on it - good, bad, all of it.

    The whole thing's done in Sibelius with NotePerformer3. I'll upload the score once I've finished tidying it up.


    Attached Files:

  2. Score is now attached to the original post.
  3. Some cool moments in there. A different Brahms to be sure.

    First...... your notation is WAY too hard. Just use 8ths and staccato.

    For the 16th notes that are syncopated....... that's easier to do when it's one person. You can - have harp/celeste (or other percussion) play
    both part ---- so it looks like a figure from the Bach D min Toccata. It will make it much easier to execute.

    Also.... there are some deviations from the score. I only could look over the 1st page, but a few caught my ear. What happened to the ascending line at measure 4 ? Not sure how I feel about the violin entries -- as they alter the score, and I like them not being on 1 like Brahms had
  4. Thanks Doug. I was worried about those 16ths. I knew staccato 8ths would be easier to read, but was worried it might alter the performance significantly.

    I've also just realised that while this thread is correctly named, the video and the score aren't. I only orchestrated the second movement. Does that cover your query about the ascending line?
  5. ??? I knew that it was the 2nd mov.

    Look at measure 2 in the Celeste of your score. See that ascending line in the left hand.
    Where is it in measure 4 ?
    Here is the Brahms score. It will clearly show the rhythmic variation you added too.

    Screen Shot 2018-09-16 at 6.42.18 PM.png
  6. #6 Sam Miller, Sep 16, 2018
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2018
    I see exactly what you mean. That was just me making a silly mistake, so thanks for catching it. I've fixed the score accordingly.

    For the rhythmic variation (I assume you're talking about b7). I initially had it orchestrated as written, but because the strings weren't playing the acciacatura it created a minor 2nd that didn't sound very nice. Moving the Viola down to the G was may way around that problem, but I realise now that it just shifts the minor 2nd to the last semiquaver. So I've changed it to double the last beat of the melody in b7 and finish on the F.
    Doug Gibson likes this.
  7. Not sure what you are describing above. Let me point out the spot. Ok.... on your score look at violin 1&2 measure 7&8. See how on measure 8 you have the B and D on beat 1. That's not in the score. It happens on beat 2, as you have it in the Celeste. We are also missing the lower E at measure 7.


    Do you know the story of Van Halen and brown M&M's ? This story was made famous in pop-culture for being ultimate diva. In their contract (rider) it stated they wanted a large bowl of M&M's. They wanted someone to go thru and pick out every brown M&M. If one was spotted they had the right to cancel the concert.

    But here is the other side:

    This was during the 1984 tour. At the time they had the most pyrotechnics of any show. David Lee Roth would surf over the audience etc.
    This meant, when going into new stadiums the crew had to have an extraordinary amount of attention to detail or else people could get seriously hurt.

    What the Brown M&M's actually meant was that if the crew was not following directions, then they had a safe guard to know they had to go back and double check everything.

    Something I had to learn the hard way: There are no small mistakes. They don't have size, or adjectives.

    I think it is great you are orchestrating Brahms. Here is what I suggest you do.

    Take the image of the score above.

    Memorize it. Do not touch the orchestration yet.

    Spend two weeks, everyday...... get a blank piece of manuscript paper and write out from memory the Brahms passage.

    Find yourself drunk in the gutter on a Saturday night ? (your Australian after all)

    Get a napkin and write out the Brahms from memory.

    Check ..... are all the details there ? Everything.

    Once it is tattooed in your brain, have another shot, and ideally only pencil and paper. You won't need the computer at this point.

    My bet is that it would be a revelation.
  8. Thanks for clarifying, I see the variation you're talking about. I kept the strings playing through the first quaver because including the rest created an abrupt stop that didn't sound good. Thinking about it now though, I hadn't accounted for the piano's natural decay when orchestrating those strings. Accounting for that natural decay could have solved the problem in the first place.

    I didn't include the E because I couldn't find a way to make it work for the Violas without it sounding terrible. Because the E was doubled in Violins1, and I wasn't changing the harmony, I thought this would be an acceptable compromise.

    In hindsight I'm thinking it might've been more effective (and respectful of the original) to have the Violins decrescendo to niente in b7, and have the Violas and Celli double the Bassoons playing the B/F. Maybe that would've kept enough textural continuity to remove the abrupt stop I was trying to avoid.

    I take your point about no small mistakes, but my plan is to move on to a new orchestration. I want to learn my lessons from this exercise and take them with me into the next Sonata (Beethoven - Op.2, No.3, Movt 2). I've spent so much time on the Brahms that I'm struggling to be objective about it. Any attempt to re-write it would likely end with me fixing it until it's completely broken. I'm slowly learning the lesson you're talking about - don't rush to orchestration, understand the original first.
    Doug Gibson likes this.

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