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.”
You can see what Philip Glass liked about the harp in his music. On one hand, it’s a close substitute for a piano, which is involved in the originals of all three of these transcriptions. The excerpts from The Hours (tracks 7-12) were transcribed from a piano version of the original Nicole Kidman film soundtrack score, and unsurprisingly Meijer said that of the three works, that one gave her the most trouble.
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.
The Essential Philip Glass is a three-disc 2012 compilation not to be confused with the single-disc 1993 album, The Essential Philip Glass. The tracks from both are taken from previous Sony releases. Two of the discs of the 2012 set are made up of single tracks from a number of albums, including Songs from Liquid Days, Glassworks, the film score Naqoyqatsi, the ballet In the Upper Room, and the choral-orchestral piece Itaipu. Stylistically the music represents a fairly narrow range in Glass' career; all the music except for Naqoyqatsi is from the 1980s. There is variety in the musical forces used; the Philip Glass Ensemble led by Michael Riesman figures prominently, but there are also pieces that use chorus, vocalists, and piano. Linda Ronstadt, Yo-Yo Ma, the Kronos Quartet, and Glass himself are among the distinguished soloists.
Naxos’ exciting and important American Classics series now includes music of the present day, in this case three recent works by Philip Glass. The Violin Concerto, a work that (surprisingly) adheres to classical conventions, lures us in with beautiful, seductive harmonies. Glass relies both on his trademark arpeggiated technique (sounding in the first movement somewhat like Vivaldi’s “Winter” concerto) and on his favorite harmonic progressions to suggest a sustained melodic line. In the first two movements Glass’ carefully timed harmonic and rhythmic shifts keep you in a happy daze. He breaks the mood in the finale, however, leaving the soloist to practice arpeggios at length until the quiet, serene coda steals in. Adele Anthony, who plays with the kind of skill and grace we would expect in a Mozart concerto, brings off Glass’ work with consummate, convincing musicianship. Company (music for Becket’s prose) for string orchestra is in four movements, characterized by stimulating changes in time signature and rhythm.
Bojan Gorišek is the leading Slovenian pianist in the field of contemporary music, perhaps best known for recording the complete piano opus (10 CDs) of Erik Satie for the Blaricum Music Group of the Netherlands and the English label LTM Recordings. Those recordings, rated among the best ever made, represent the most complete review of Satie’s piano compositions to date. He has recorded over 30 CDs to date, including four CDs by George Crumb, the piano sonata Concord by Charles Ives and two CDs by Philip Glass for the Blaricum Music Group (Audiophile Classics series). He has also recorded the complete piano opuses of a number of Slovenian composers. Most recently, he has received high regard for his interpretations of Arvo Pärt and Philip Glass.