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I need to get up in 2 hours, why am I still working on my assignment?
I'm going to bed, to get a decent night's sleep, seeing as I have both a test and a job interview tomorrow.
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2010-05-19 05:02 am (UTC)
I decided to leach onto this livejournal post as it was already heading towards nearly a fortnight without a comment, since I had a quick look at the full score of RVW's #1. The one with chorus, like.
First off, winds: triple woodwind plus an extra E flat clarinet make for a baker's dozen, and we had just over half that number. I wasn't sure if I heard piccolo last night (usually doubling third flute): it would be the most obvious omission as no other instrument can cover it in the super-treble, pitch/dynamic-wise. The contrabassoon at the other end of the frequency spectrum is at least "covered" for similar pitch by organ pedal, bass tuba or double bass. Thus, with only 7 players last night, we were without: piccolo/3rd flute, both oboes, E flat and bass clarinet, and the contrabassoon.
You can get away with just 2 flutes doubling piccolo; but you need the special version of the part for Flute 2 which combines it with Piccolo; Flute 3 is very occasionally covered by Clarinet 2. Oboe 2 is meant to be dispensible, the Cor anglais frequently covers it, again by means of a special part. The Bass clarinet is also dispensible, most often covered by a special Bassoon 2 part (but occasionally Cor anglais or even solo cello). No special coverage for the contrabassoon.
Brass: only Horns 3 and 4 are missing, and quite a bit of independent writing for them is cued into the parts for Horns 1 and 2; but nowhere near all of it. Evidently the parts weren't designed for this contingency... especially as at one point after B in mvmt 4, Horns 3 and 4 have cues to cover Oboe 2 and Bass clarinet! Three each of trumpets and trombones are necessary if you only have 2 horns – in many places you would lack a full triad (like the opening of the Scherzo).
The percussion is timp (on 3 drums), bass drum, side drum, triangle, cymbals (crash and susp). It looks very much like five players minimum for the percussion including the timpanist, though there aren't many such passages where you need to roll 4 instruments and crash another (fig Z of mvmt 4 has b.d, cymb and tri rolls plus hits on timp and s.d.). Of those the timpanist is actually sort of dispensible – curiously the example I just gave is the only place in the entire work where he really gets an independent melodic part. A lot of time the timp's rhythmic punctuation is doubled in intensity by some of the other drums, and the pitch covered other bass instruments. In bar 4 of the entire piece, the only instruments that sound below the chorus on beat 1 ("sea!") are timpani and organ pedal – hence organ is deemed "rumbly" enough...
Strings: all but the double basses have a maximum four-way divisi; the violas and cellos are div. a4 for quite a long stretch of mvmt 4. VW's indications tell us he viewed "4 desks" of 1st violins as a subset of his preferred number; he definitely specifies 6 desks of cellos, or 12 players for preference. I conclude it's safe to guess he would have expected something like 184.108.40.206.6 or about 60-odd strings total. As for the double basses, they are only given 2-part divisi, mostly octaves, so the sole player will normally concentrate on the lower note (in such cases the upper is often doubled by cello). A very few of the divisi look like they could be played by a sole player. Given the prominence of the lines, 220.127.116.11.1 is probably the best use of resources...
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