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.
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.
This elegantly packaged 10 disc retrospective surveys four decades of work by Philip Glass, from his earliest solo pieces to his world-renowned operas to his Oscar-nominated film scores. In music, words and pictures, it traces the evolution, as critic Tim Page puts it in his liner notes essay, of 'the first composer to win a wide, multi-generational audience in the opera house, the concert hall, the dance world, in film and in popular music-simultaneously.' The long-awaited release of this set follows this past spring's triumphal new staging of Glass's 1980 Satyagraha at the Metropolitan Opera House…
Philip Glass' opera from 2009 explores the life of scientist Johannes Kepler though a series of dramatic scenes with two hours of Glass' music. Kepler in many ways hearkens back to Glass' portrait operas of the early 1980s and continues the composers interest in scientists after having also written operas on Einstein and Galileo. The opera premiered at the Landestheater Linz in 2009 as part of Linz 09, the European Cultural Capital, and continues the amazing 30 year collaboration between Glass and the conductor Dennis Russell Davies, the music director of both the Landestheater Linz and its orchestra, the Bruckner Orchester Linz who has also recorded Glass' music extensively for the Orange Mountain Music label including Glass Symphonies 6, 7, and 8, and Glass' large scale opera The Voyage which was originally written for the Metropolitan Opera.
'The Concerto Project Vol. III' is the penultimate release in a series of four albums to be issued by Orange Mountain Music documenting the eight Philip Glass concertos to date. Volume III includes Glass's 'Concerto Grosso' commissioned by the City of Bonn for the opening of the Stadtische Kunstmuseum in the German city in 1992. Each movement of the Concerto Grosso is written for a distinctive group of instruments - the winds, brass and strings, which together make up a symphonic ensemble. In this live 1993 recording it is played by the Beethoven Orchester Bonn conducted by long-time Glass associate Dennis Russell Davies, the musicians who premiered the work - under its original title of Concerto for Three Ensembles - in June 1992. The second concerto is Glass's 'Concerto for Saxophone Quartet', performed by its dedicatees, the internationally renowned Raschèr Saxophone Quartet who premiered the piece at the Schleswig-Holstein Music Festival in 1995.
A collaboration between an avant-garde modern classical composer and a traditional Indian/Hindi composer/performer seems as unlikely as ice hockey on the River Styx. However, Passages is a collaboration between Philip Glass and Ravi Shankar and it works quite well. Shankar's smooth style fits nicely with Glass' dissonant orchestrations. There is a great deal of technical data involved here. Both of these artists have long taken intellectual approaches to music. Thus, the liner notes are a bit heavy-handed. The music is brilliant. The symphony dominates the soundscapes, but Shankar's atmospheres are integral to the success of this project.