WGBH Radio WGBH Radio theclassicalstation.org

From The Philip Glass Recording Archive Vol 1

Release Date: 05/08/2007 
Label:  Orange Mountain Music   Catalog #: 44   Spars Code: n/a 
Composer:  Philip Glass
Performer:  Gary CookPeter RejtoWu ManLynn Chang,   ... 
Number of Discs: 1 
Recorded in: Stereo 
Back Order: Usually ships in 2 to 3 weeks.  

Notes and Editorial Reviews

GLASS The Sound of a Voice: Suite. 1 In the Summer House 2 Wu Man (pipa); 1 Lynn Chang (vn); 1 Peter Rejto (vc); 1 Tara Helen O’Connor (fl); 1 Gary Cook (perc); 1 Krista Feeney (vn); Read more class="SUPER12">2 Richard Sher (vc) 2 ORANGE MOUNTAIN 44 (53.48)

Here we have the first in a potentially enjoyable and significant archival series: Philip Glass’s theatrical scores. As Richard Guerin’s sleeve note points out, Glass is a creature of the theater, and possibly his best work has been in the area of performance art, namely dance pieces, drama, and—by extension—film.

Two scores make up this initial CD. The Sound of a Voice is an opera based on two Japanese stories (libretto by David Henry Hwang), premiered in 2003, from which the composer has extracted a single-movement instrumental suite for chamber concert performance. I have suggested previously that Glass’s music becomes more varied and interesting when guided by some outside influence, and that is overwhelmingly the case with this work. The Japanese setting results in a distinctive tone color, mainly achieved by the use of the pipa, a traditional Japanese instrument not unlike a mandolin. The unfolding scenario does not allow the composer to settle into a groove for too long: there is considerable variety of tempo, rhythm, timbre, and melody here. Moreover, Glass’s episodic structure (so often unsatisfying in a symphonic context) is entirely appropriate when accompanying action or underscoring the emotional thrust of a specific moment.

The second work consists of 18 short movements, or cuts, from the original recorded soundtrack of Glass’s score for Jane Bowles’s In the Summer House , a play produced in New York in 1993. Here Glass uses only two instruments: violin and cello. While he gets a full sound from them, this duo nevertheless exposes the limitations of the composer’s language. Independent counterpoint is rarely if ever in evidence. Glass’s thinking is always harmonic, and almost always restricted to a succession of triadic arpeggios. There is much of the minor/major see-sawing that adds an effective undercurrent of restlessness and quiet anxiety to such movies as The Hours . In the case of In the Summer House no doubt it was equally effective, but the music fails to stand up on its own, despite the occasional lyrical moment (notably from the rich-toned cello).

This CD is a mixed bag, then, as are so many of Glass’s Orange Mountain productions. I recommend it primarily for The Sound of a Voice , a work of sustained invention and genuine variety. Performances are excellent, committed and, wherever possible, passionate. The recording quality is very good; the engineer of In the Summer House (Michael Riesman) was particularly sensitive to the nuances of the string duo’s performance.

FANFARE: Phillip Scott
Read less

Works on This Recording

The Sound of a Voice: Suite by Philip Glass
Performer:  Gary Cook (Percussion), Peter Rejto (Cello), Wu Man (Pipa),
Lynn Chang (Violin), Tara Helen O'Connor (Flute)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 2003 
In the Summer House by Philip Glass
Performer:  Richard Sher (Cello), Krista Feeney (Violin)
Period: 20th Century 
Written: 1993; USA 

Customer Reviews

Be the first to review this title
Review This Title