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.
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.”
His third album in as many years to tackle the classic U.S. sounds of the '60s, California: Americana, Vol. 3 sees Canadian-Acadian vocalist Roch Voisine abandon the old-school rock & roll and Nashville country of its predecessors in favor of nine of the flower power movement's defining folk-pop hits. Recorded in California itself, the 2010 installment of the successful series pays homage to the state's musical heritage, with faithful performances of the Byrds' Book of Ecclesiastes-inspired "Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season)," Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Southern Cross," and the Monkees' Neil Diamond-penned "I'm a Believer," alongside both English and bilingual versions of Scott McKenzie's "San Francisco" and the Mamas & the Papas' "California Dreamin'."