This very appealing disc of post-minimal solo piano music, played by Bruce Brubaker, includes two multi-movements works by William Duckworth and Philip Glass.
Bruce Brubaker artistic skill and understanding of this music is beyond reproach and will thrill any fan of the collected composers work on this CD. The sound quality is outstanding as well. Bruce Brubaker has recorded two CDs on the Arabesque label in a continuing series exploring modern American piano music. The most recent, Inner Cities , was released in September 2003, and includes Brubaker's transcription of Pat Nixon's aria from Adams's opera, Nixon in China . The previous CD, Glass Cage , with pieces by Glass and Cage, was named one of the ten best releases of 2000 by The New Yorker magazine.
Though he may not be a piano superstar, Bruce Brubaker is clearly a musician to watch. On this recording of solo piano works by Philip Glass and John Cage, Brubaker somehow shifts between these two very different modernist composers to create a seamless disc of mesmerizing keyboard music. While Glass's own playing is often precise and austere, Brubaker is a different beast altogether. With him, we get a hint of Impressionism and a sense of contemplation with each note. The five parts of Metamorphosis are given shades of melancholy, along with frenzy; on the expansive "Mad Rush," Brubaker goes wild where he has to, but always returns to the piece's calming, sweet center. The piano music of John Cage is limited to just two cuts–"A Room" and "Dream"–but they, too, are hauntingly beautiful (especially the latter, longer piece). For anyone who has grown tired of Philip Glass's recent electronic keyboard forays or the ubiquitous prepared-piano CDs of John Cage, Glass Cage will sound like a fresh and sublime homecoming to two musical mavericks. Recommended.
The music on this recital was specifically written or arranged for duo violinists Angela and Jennifer Chun. It highlights the personal and professional connections between Philip Glass and Nico Muhly, a longtime colleague and admirer of Glass's work. Glass's miniaturist works, Mad Rush and In the Summer House, create a maximum effect when paired with Muhly's minimalist Four Studies and Honest Music.
To say this barrier-breaking string quartet plays modern music is an understatement. All of the five composers showcased on this audacious recording were born in the 20th century. Minimalist Philip Glass is among the best known of the five, whose works cannot possibly be mistaken with anything from the baroque or classical periods. This particular foursome illustrates the grace, beauty, and even power of a string quartet, but goes well beyond. In the words of first violinist and leader David Harrington, "I've always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass and be absolutely beautiful and ugly if it has to be." The album-ending cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze" must be heard to be believed.
Fans of Bang on a Can and Philip Glass may grab "5ths" impulsively, but all others should approach this disc with caution. Music in Fifths and Two Pages may be classic Glass works, from 1969 and 1968, respectively, and their place in the development of his style of minimalist music is undeniable. However, Music in Fifths is austere and edgy, and the emphasis on tight ensemble playing in parallel fifths puts a premium on the group's physical stamina. But the music is relentless and tiring after the first few minutes. The rapid, repetitive melody in organum voicing changes slightly over the course of 24 minutes, but only the most persevering listener will be able to detect the subtle rhythmic shifting. Two Pages may offer a change of color and texture, but the relief is brief indeed, for this piece runs on its narrow pitch material for 27 minutes, without significant changes other than the shortening or elongation of cycles. These pieces are among Glass' most severe works, and come well before the comparatively lush pattern pieces of the late '70s and the neo-Romantic scores of the 1980s.
This CD presents several piano works by Philip Glass, played with grace and enthusiasm by Aleck Karis. Wichita Vortex Sutra (1988) was inspired by the poem of the same title by Allen Ginsburg from 1966, which alternates between images of a road across the U.S. and a protest against the war in Vietnam. The basis of the music is a simple Protestant-like hymn tune with chromatic passing tones. This is treated to rhythmic syncopation and, at other times, is surrounded by quickly arpeggiated patterns. The Metamorphosis (1988), with the title from Kafka's famous work, is in five movements. Each movement has simple melodies and a simple set of chords, usually four in number, with chromatic changes between them. These "changes" happen through the addition of a chord or other simple alteration. The pieces are moved along to the accompaniment of a plain two-note rotating figure. In Mad Rush (1981), various doublings and polyrhythms are superimposed and then subtracted at various points, which gives a rushing or slowing effect without any actual change in tempo.
In 2002 Philip Glass composed the soundtrack score to the Stephen Daldry film "The Hours". The film went on to receive 9 Acadamy Awards nominations, including one for ‘best score’. At the beginning of the film, Daldry depicts the timelessness of small daily events, how the real elements of life are patterns that repeat across time. The movie opens with three women from three different eras intercut, all doing similar things. There's Virginia Woolf (Nicole Kidman) in 1923, a troubled young mother (Julianne Moore) in 1951 and a woman (Meryl Streep) in 2001 making preparations for a party later that evening. In one location flowers are bought, in another displayed, in another discarded. Philip Glass' score intensely underlines the images with a sense of strangeness and sympathy. Michael Riesman, Mr. Glass’ longtime musical director and producer of the film score recordings, created solo piano adaptations of the original score and has been performing them in concert.
Philip Glass is that rarest of contemporary 'classical' composers - a musician who has revolutionized the way art music is composed and found a massive audience in doing so. As much a pop and cult phenomenon as he is a descendant of Beethoven, Glass' music has been used in classic films like Koyanisqaatsi and…but it's in his music for solo piano that the essence of his art is revealed. In this groundbreaking album from Sydney pianist Sally Whitwell - the first of its kind ever to be recorded in this country - all of Glass' finest solo piano music is represented. In an additional Australian angle, the Stuart piano is used, its crystalline tones ideally suited to Glass' hypnotically beautiful music.
Philip Glass' one act chamber opera In the Penal Colony was composed in 2000. The libretto is by Rudolph Wurlitzer and based on a story by Franz Kafka.