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.
Besides having a flourishing career as a composer, Steffen Schleiermacher has made a name for himself as a pianist and conductor, focusing on new music. This MDG release features three very early works by Philip Glass from 1968 and 1969, Music in Similar Motion, How Now, and Music in Fifths. The works are stylistically closely related and come from a point in the composer's career when he was exploring the use of repetitive structures varied through additive and subtractive processes. Their tonality, limited pitch material, and constant rhythmic patterns gave rise to the popular misconception that Glass' music is about nothing but repetition. Attentive listening (or any real listening at all) reveals that there is a great deal more going on, and that in spite of the simplicity of the material, Glass' radical techniques could produce music of considerable subtlety and seriousness of intent, as well as having a surface that, for certain audiences, was compelling and immensely appealing.
The fact that Philip Glass' music stands up so well in a variety of arrangements is a testament to its durability. German composer and pianist/organist Steffen Schleiermacher offers a recital of two dances from Dance, Glass' monumental 1979 multimedia collaboration with choreographer Lucinda Childs and visual artist Sol Lewitt, arranged for organ, and Sonata, a transcription for piano of one section from each of Glass' three portrait operas, made by Paul Barnes. The dances, which frame the Sonata on the CD, are especially effective when performed on the organ, due to the grandeur of which the organ is capable, its ability to sustain notes without decay, and the fact that its sound is closely related to the electronic keyboards used in the original. There is more of a sonic leap from the wind and electronic sounds of Einstein on the Beach and the orchestras of Satyagraha and Akhnaten to a solo piano.
Michael Nyman's three String Quartets were not conceived as a series, as they owe their origins to three very different sets of circumstances. However when the composer heard them together on the 1991 Argo recording featuring the Balanescu Quartet reissued here, he realized that the works had an unintentional but unmistakable consistency of compositional approach. Each work is built around the principle of conflict - not necessarily conflict between the instruments, as is the traditional view of the quartet medium, but conflict between sets of musical materials that appear to be at odds with each other. In the first, the conflict is between two 'found' musical objects, separated both by their cultural origins and by a distance of around 300 years. The conflict in the second is between Indian and European musical styles, while the third's comes from the process of adapting an earlier choral work into a string quartet, interspersing the original with Romanian folk music fragments.
Having recently concluded his Halvorsen series, Neeme Järvi continues his Nordic project with the Bergen Philharmonic Orchestra. This is Volume 2 in the survey of orchestral works by the Norwegian composer Johan Svendsen, a contemporary of Grieg. In the Cello Concerto, the orchestration is perhaps more introvert than what we usually hear in Svendsen’s music.
The quartets of Japanese composer Toshio Hosokawa presented here bring to mind a fusion of Western avant-garde textures and extended instrumental techniques with traditional Japanese aesthetics. It's an immensely absorbing combination, and his music appears to have evolved over the years in a more Japanese direction while not losing any of its innovative qualities. Consider the opening work, Blossoming, which true to its name depicts the blossoming of a flower. It sounds like a hackneyed concept, but the realization here is striking: the action unfolds over nearly 14 minutes coalescing out of silence and then a panoply of minute details.
Mystical work, The Mirror of Jesus written in 1923 on poems by Henry Gheon, a partition is quite unique in its structure fifteen fragments when Christians meditate on the "mysteries" experienced by the Virgin Mary to the events of life of her Son, as in a "mirror" of herself. By training also: mezzo-soprano, female chorus, harp and string quintet. A rare work, refined to reflect as much as listen.