Notes and Editorial Reviews
By and large, minimalism is in steep decline, but every now and then something comes along to give fans of the style hope. This is the case with Philip Glass' brilliant Symphony No. 5 "Requiem, Bardo, Nirmanakaya". This mammoth two-CD work is more of a symphonic cantata than an actual symphony and is similar in design to Shostakovich's dark Symphony No. 14. While the Shostakovich is a meditation on death, Glass' symphony is a 12-movement storytelling of the whole of creation from beginning to end, as written in just about every holy book, poem, or epic fable that the world has known. Segments come from the Koran, the Bible, the Popul Voh (Mayan), the Rig Veda, the Hawaiian Kumulipo, and
Zuni myths, as well as from Japanese and Chinese sources. All are sung in English. The texts themselves come printed on individual folding cards that also have some of the text written in the original calligraphy. The packaging is quite original, if somewhat bulky.
As for the performance values, the studio ambience is quite warm and all components (choir, soloists, orchestra) are judiciously miked. (But why are the God parts or even those of Death always sung by males? Where is political correctness when you need it?) Still, all of Glass' familiar rising and falling filigrees are here, even if much of the music itself sounds like notes from Koyaanisqatsi or The "Low" Symphony. That aside, this may very well be Glass' masterpiece. It certainly accomplishes what Steve Reich failed to do in his abysmal symphonic cantata, The Cave. The music here is captivating and the texts are lovingly sung by all involved. And while we may have heard elements of this music before, here it all seems fresh, vibrant, and vital.
--Paul Cook, ClassicsToday.com Read less
Works on This Recording
Symphony no 5 "Choral" by Philip Glass
Ana Maria Martinez (Soprano),
Denyce Graves (Mezzo Soprano),
Michael Schade (Tenor),
Eric Owens (Baritone),
Albert Dohmen (Bass Baritone)
Dennis Russell Davies
Hungarian Radio/TV Children's Chorus,
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra,
Morgan State University Choir
Period: 20th Century
Written: 1999; USA
Date of Recording: 2000
Venue: Austrian Broadcasting Studios, Vienna
Length: 96 Minutes 47 Secs.
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