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Glass: Koyaanisqatsi - Original Soundtrack

Release Date: 08/11/2009 
Label:  Orange Mountain Music   Catalog #: 58   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Philip Glass
Performer:  Lowell HersheySeymour BarabJean DaneAlbert De Ruitaer,   ... 
Conductor:  Michael Riesman
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Length: 1 Hours 16 Mins. 

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Notes and Editorial Reviews

GLASS Koyaanisqatsi Michael Riesman, cond; Philip Glass Ens ORANGE MOUNTAIN 58 (76:16)

This is the third release to feature Glass’s first film score. We’ve had an abbreviated version of the soundtrack, tailored to LP length, plus a near complete re-recording by the Glass Ensemble on Nonesuch. The new Orange Mountain release features the complete original soundtrack, including a few noises and effects, plus the contribution of Michael Hoenig, the original music director. The other way to get all this music Read more is, of course, via the DVD of the movie. Whether or not you like the film, TV and advertising were never the same again after Koyaanisqatsi . If you’ve not yet seen Ron Fricke’s much-copied time-lapse photography, then it’s going to seem retro in feel when you finally do. But, as Glass says, seeing this film in the 1980s was like seeing the world for the first time.

I’ve known it since the early U.K. showings, and I owned the soundtrack LP before I saw the film. Hence, I’m more fan than objective critic when it comes to the movie plus music. Heard alone, and sounding good, the big Glass score seems like a leisurely symphony. It makes a big arc, from the first quiet organ notes to the last alienated snippets of sound. Two big climaxes are worked up in between. First, “Pruitt Igoe,” with a memorable, long-prepared kick-in of an up-tempo bass line. Then, “The Grid,” which sustains dark, inexorable mania for more than a quarter hour. Already in Glass’s work the Wagnerian scale (and influence) is clear. What makes Koyaanisqatsi so strong is the quality of the themes and melodic motifs, and the variety of treatment, from unaccompanied choir (“Vessels”) to the full-on familiar sound of the whole ensemble.

This original has more guts than the later Nonesuch, which is technically faultless but feels somewhat cold in comparison. There is, though, more weight to the lowest octave in the Nonesuch recording. The score is a period piece, helping define the way we all were (and how America and Glass were) in the early 1980s. Heard fresh, it comes up very well, even without nostalgia for the images it accompanied. The score’s about regret, born of observation, fading into the sounds of modern paranoia and the babbling media. But it still manages to be a comforting experience. There are very occasional rough edges to the sound, but the feel and drive are not impaired. So this enjoyable new disc joins the small handful of universally recommendable Glass CDs.

FANFARE: Paul Ingram
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Works on This Recording

Koyaanisqatsi by Philip Glass
Performer:  Lowell Hershey (Trumpet), Seymour Barab (Cello), Jean Dane (Viola),
Albert De Ruitaer (Voice), Warren Deck (Tuba), Jon Gibson (Saxophone),
Peter Gordon (French Horn), Mark Gould (Trumpet), Jack Kripl (Saxophone),
Jack Kripl (Clarinet), Keith O'Quinn (Trombone), Bob Mintzer (Bass Clarinet),
Bob Mintzer (Saxophone), Samuel Pilafian (Tuba), Brooks Tillotson (French Horn),
Theodore Israel (Viola), James Pugh (Trombone), Tom Nyfenger (Piccolo),
Lew Soloff (Trumpet), Allan Dean (Trumpet), George Flynn (Bass Trombone),
Jack Kripl (Flute), Sharon Moe (French Horn), Richard Peck (Saxophone),
Michael Riesman (Keyboards), Frederick Zlotkin (Cello), Kermit Moore (Cello),
Tom Nyfenger (Flute), Bob Smith (Trombone), Charles Lewis (Trumpet),
Albert [French Horn] Richmond (French Horn), Russell Rizner (French Horn), Beverly Lauridsen (Cello),
Jill Jaffe (Viola), Sue Pray (Viola)
Conductor:  Michael Riesman
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1981; USA 

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