The works in this programme demonstrate Philip Glass’s perpetual goal of connecting with his audience. Taking shape as something like a hidden sonata form, Mad Rush contrasts peaceful atmosphere with tempestuousness and mesmerizing beauty. The last of its kind in Glass’s oeuvre, 600 Lines, here receiving its première recording on solo piano, is an obsessive and hypnotically restless toccata that represents the zenith of his experiences while working with Ravi Shankar. These two monumental works are joined by première recordings of the subtly transformed Metamorphosis 2, and Glass’s only transcription in the form of Paul Simon’s The Sound of Silence.
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.