The usual stuff is here: arpeggio versus ostinato, ostinato versus arpeggio. And as always, the Philip Glass Ensemble's synthesizers double their woodwinds. But Glassworks is the most pleasant craftwork ever from the great minimalist exploiter – six warm pieces that approach the spirit of minimalist pioneer Erik Satie. Only instead of Satie's lyrical-to-antic jumps, Glass creates the ruminative-to-excitable kind. "Opening"'s softly rolled piano melody is music to fold your hands and muse by, and when Sharon Moe's French horn sets up "Floe," everything seems nice and level – until the flailing woodwinds and synthesizers of the ensemble crash in. Glassworks is tuneful in the most pleasingly direct sense – the arrangements define the melodies so cleanly they're instantly memorable.
An album the majority of whose contents consists of harp arrangements of music by Philip Glass might seem a bit arcane for a major label, but it seems that Sony knows what it is doing here. The Glass Effect double album is one of those releases that succeed on two different levels, an explicit one and one that, although not mentioned, is perhaps even more important. The former level here is the one denoted by the title, as Meijer picks up the rather neglected theme of Philip Glass' influence by offering, on disc two, a group of works by younger composers who follow Glass in varying degrees but who, it's safe to say, wouldn't have the styles they do without Glass having gone before. Much of the album consists of arrangements by Meijer herself, and these include, at the end, a remix of music from Koyaanisqatsi that's delightful and would be spoiled by description. But there's also solo harp music: sample the Suite for Harp by progressive rock musician Bryce Dessner, who certainly seems to have absorbed Glass' style far enough to make it his own.
The third in the Glass’ trilogy of operas about men who changed the world in which they lived through the power of their ideas, “Akhnaten”‘s subject is religion. The Pharaoh Akhnaten was the first monotheist in recorded story, and his substitution of a one-god religion for the multi-god worship in use when he came to power was responsible for his violent overthrow. The opera describes the rise, reign, and fall of Akhnaten in a series of tableaus. Libretto (Egyptian, Arcadian, Hebrew, and language of the audience) by the composer in association with Shalom Goldman, Robert Israel and Richard Riddell. Vocal text drawn from original sources by Shalom Goldman.
30 years after Philip Glass’ debut record the new music ensemble Signal asked Philip Glass Ensemble music director Michael Riesman to arrange the classic album “Glassworks” for live performance. The concert took place at the New York venue, Poisson Lubman in April 2010. This CD features a new recording of the entire score, paired with a riveting performance of “Music in Similar Motion”.
Philip Glass’ Concerto Fantasy for Two Timpanists and Orchestra, composed in 2000 and transcribed for wind ensemble by Mark Lortz in 2004, is a significant addition to the repertoire of large-scale works for timpani. The work is rhythmically galvanizing, sonically alluring, and features virtuoso cadenzas for both soloists. Symphony No 4 ‘In the Shadow of No Towers’ is Mohammed Fairouz’s first major work for wind ensemble, and its inspiration is the provocative comic book by Art Spiegelman, written shortly after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Spiegelman himself has commented: “I’m moved by [this] scary, somber, and seriously silly symphony…I’m honored that the composer found an echo in my work that allowed him to strike a responsive chord and express his own complex responses to post 9/11 America. He emerges from the rubble with a very tony piece of high-brow cartoon music.”
Attracted by a delightful fusion of early music sonorities with modern expressiveness, the three composers in this amazingly rich and varied programme build on the magnificent harpsichord concerto legacy of JS Bach. John Rutter’s beautiful Suite Antique is full of rich and haunting themes, with a significant solo flute part and a jazzy Waltz which is as much Brubeck as Bach. Philip Glass delivers an exciting experience of virtuoso instrumental blending and solo expressiveness, and with typical wit and elegance. Jean Françaix’s Concerto is terrific fun throughout.
The CD combines Bach's Goldberg Variations with the Metamorphosis of Philip Glass and offers a confrontation between two completely different musical worlds.