Professional Orchestration Review: LASS Sordinos

By • November 16, 2011

With the release of LASS Sordino Strings, Andrew Keresztes, with no PR fanfare to mark the occasion, has completed his vision for the original L.A. Scoring Strings, which began shipping not quite two and half years ago.

Now for the first time, composers have a matching complement to LASS with legato muted strings (sordinos) following the same small ensemble approach originated by Mr. Keresztes. The screen capture below shows Violins 1 with the A, B, C, and Full Ensemble groupings.

This is followed with consistency with Violins 2, Violas, Cellos and Basses.

Additionally, LASS Legato Sordinos sports a much easier to use interface which is a pre-cursor to the soon-to-be released LASS 2.0 update).

Click the graphic to enlarge and you’ll see that one can choose rather quickly the desired LASS articulation, thus making LASS that much quicker to use.

As mentioned above, the legato muted strings have been recorded with violins, violas and cellos, and uniquely, with basses. I say uniquely as there are those who swear that the basses are never muted, a point seemingly missed by Maurice Ravel in Pictures At An Exhibition and Vaughan Williams in The Lark Ascending.

Happily, Mr. Keresztes followed the lead of Ravel and Vaughan Williams instead of those who are far more learned.

Consequently, whether the composer is film/game/TV or concert, the full legato muted palette is available for the whole ensemble.

Alas (pun intended), there is a shortfall.

What the LASS Legato Sordinos lack are the “short” articulations for staccato, marcato, and so on. This means you’ll have to create them the old fashioned way – through performance and note length editing.

For a product comparison, I checked both QLSO and the Vienna Orchestral Strings 1 and 2, and both had taken a similar approach with the muted strings they each had recorded.

From an orchestration perspective I compared LASS Legato Sordinos to two works. The first used the full LASS ensemble while the second used muted strings that could be executed on smaller LASS ensemble, something no other library on the market can do.

My first test piece was The Old Castle from Pictures At An Exhibition orchestrated by Ravel. Beginning at Rehearsal 23, Ravel writes triads in octaves. The melody is assigned to Violins 1 who are div a 2. To do this in LASS, I’d put the C on the high melody and B+A on the low melody. Violins 2 have the balance of the triadic harmony voiced down, also div a 2. Again, same procedure: C on the top B+A on the bottom. Violas have the harmony an octave lower under the lower melody under Violins 1.

So you have:

Violins 1a – Melody (upper register)

Violins 2a – Harmony

Violins 2b – Harmony

Violins 1b – Melody (octave lower)

Violas a – Harmony (octave lower)

Violas b – Harmony (octave lower)

Dial in at about 1:20.

Test piece #2 was The Lark Ascending. This work also has the whole ensemble muted including the basses, playing a five-part chord, one chord tone per section. The string harmony is doubled by 2 Clarinets and 2 French Horns. Vaughan Williams designed this work for a small chamber string section, which because of its small ensemble approach, LASS Legato Sordinos and LASS combined is the only library that can execute this work based on the composer’s aural vision.

This performance is by Janine Jansen at the BBC Proms:

OBSERVATIONS

Because of the unique way LASS has been designed, the only fair comparison is to compare the LASS Legato Sordinos to the sordinos in the original release. My observation is that Violins 1 in LASS Legato Sordinos, compared to the LASS Sordinos have a similar edginess to the original LASS Violins 1 lacking in the basic Sordinos. So, you may want to EQ them a bit.

Other than that, job well done!

As a disclosure, Alexander Publishing is not a dealer for LASS Legato Sordinos. These are available as a download only from www.audiobro.com.

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