The Essence of a Piano Concerto is so incredibly involved with many moving parts, instruments, acoustic balances, and instrumentation. It’s almost unimaginable. Of course, the composition is at the heart of it all. And let me clarify upfront that I’m not some world renown conductor leading the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra, although I look sharp in a tuxedo. And I’m not trying to compare myself to the great composers like Rachmaninov or Prokofiev (two of my favorites). I’m just someone who believes in just doing it (and this is not a Mountain Dew commercial). I was blessed with an upbringing that made me feel like I could do anything with dedication, determination and perseverance. Music is the conduit for me. And if you think about it …. “Why not”?
With today’s technologies, I can simulate an Orchestra. The sounds have improved tremendously over the years and offers another tool for composing. However, there is nothing like the real thing. For the best simulation, I play the notes of each instrument separately, like it would be actually performed. I use different sound samples and articulations to make it more realistic. I use an Orchestra Seating Chart to guide me in reproducing, in the stereo field, the instrument placement on stage. A little more ambience or reverb on the horns makes them sound distant being they are in the back of the stage and hit your ears a little later. I use the East West Space II software to simulate different concert halls. This gives it a more realistic reproduction of the concert experience. I can go on forever on all the tricks but only the music nerds would appreciate it. The other huge advantage, in the digital world, is you can experiment with different notes, arrangements, instruments on the fly and change them easily. Imagine what the great composers could have done with this technology.
The Piano Performance
Now for the piano. After an intensive search, the Ivory II American 1951 Steinway Concert D Grand Piano by Synthogy was the one for me. It was recorded in the best environment to get an unbelievable virtual piano. However, the best sounding piano in the world can’t help you if you are not proficient on the instrument or if your piano composition is weak. When I composed my Piano Concerto #1, with three Movements totaling over 22 minutes, I had to draw on everything I had. I used snippets from the past, experimentation and inspiration from concertos by the greats. I composed and recorded the 3rd Movement (Battle of Armageddon) first so that I could put it on The Tribulation Rock “Operalet” CD (See ‘Home’ page of this site). Then the 2nd Movement and then the 1st. Being the 1st Movement was recorded last, it has the best production. A piano concerto must take you to another place and let you visualize something. It does for me. This was an overwhelming task and major challenge for me but that’s what makes The Essence of a Piano Concerto so satisfying. And yes, I’m very proud of it. You can find the Movements in the list of songs at: https://desbeemusic.com/the-music/ Enjoy and let me know what you think.