The second release in Orange Mountain Music's 'Concerto Project' series features two world premiere recordings of works by Philip Glass, performed by the Seattle-based Northwest Chamber Orchestra under Ralf Gothóni (well-known to UK audiences as Principal Conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra since 2000). Pianist Paul Barnes performs Piano Concerto No2, After Lewis and Clark written to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the explorers' journey across the American continent. A fortuitous meeting between Barnes and Glass on an airplane in 1995 eventually led to this concerto, but it was only composed after Orange Mountain Music's acclaimed 2003 release of the pianist's transcriptions of Glass operas 'The Orphee Suite'.
Violinist Tim Fain has worked extensively with minimalist composer Philip Glass in performances and in the preparation of new pieces, and the most impressive result of their collaboration may be the Partita for solo violin (2010), a seven-movement suite written especially for Fain. Associations with Johann Sebastian Bach's violin partitas are inevitable, and it's clear that Glass has had them in mind while composing in what can be described as an aspirational, rather than a merely imitative, manner. Glass has for the most part avoided his customary ostinatos and static sections, and his use of broken chords only suggests counterpoint, rather than propulsive rhythmic patterns. He has also eschewed any direct references to Bach or Baroque style, yet the Partita's kinship with the older models is certainly felt, and Fain's playing has a lot to do with it. The ebb and flow of tempos and the expressive use of rubato give the Partita an introspective feeling, and the freedom of individual expression is quite removed from the locked-in, high-energy ensemble playing that was Glass' early trademark style.
Attracted by a delightful fusion of early music sonorities with modern expressiveness, the three composers in this amazingly rich and varied programme build on the magnificent harpsichord concerto legacy of JS Bach. John Rutter’s beautiful Suite Antique is full of rich and haunting themes, with a significant solo flute part and a jazzy Waltz which is as much Brubeck as Bach. Philip Glass delivers an exciting experience of virtuoso instrumental blending and solo expressiveness, and with typical wit and elegance. Jean Françaix’s Concerto is terrific fun throughout.
The CD combines Bach's Goldberg Variations with the Metamorphosis of Philip Glass and offers a confrontation between two completely different musical worlds.
To say this barrier-breaking string quartet plays modern music is an understatement. All of the five composers showcased on this audacious recording were born in the 20th century. Minimalist Philip Glass is among the best known of the five, whose works cannot possibly be mistaken with anything from the baroque or classical periods. This particular foursome illustrates the grace, beauty, and even power of a string quartet, but goes well beyond. In the words of first violinist and leader David Harrington, "I've always wanted the string quartet to be vital, and energetic, and alive, and cool, and not afraid to kick ass and be absolutely beautiful and ugly if it has to be." The album-ending cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic "Purple Haze" must be heard to be believed.
Orange Mountain Music presents Philip Glass second violin concerto, subtitled The American Four Seasons, performed by violinist Robert McDuffie accompanied by the London Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Marin Alsop. This live performance was captured on the occasion of the UK premiere of the work in the spring of 2010. The concerto is in four movements, with each movement preceded by a piece for solo violin comprised of a prologue and three songs. The strings-only orchestra is complemented by a synthesizer producing a sound palette that harkens back to the Philip Glass of the 1970s. The American Four Seasons was commissioned by McDuffie to act as a companion piece to Vivaldi s Four Seasons concertos, which are among the most performed and recorded works in the history of music.
The Lautten Compagney discovers surprising points of contact between the baroque composer Tarquinio Merula and American contemporary composer Philip Glass. This is music of pure pleasure that effortlessly crosses all stylistic and historical boundaries.
"This is one of the best Philip Glass albums in ages. Led by French Canadian violinist Angele Dubeau, the all-female string-ensemble La Pieta has woven together some of the composer's most moodily romantic and irresistible pieces, playing them with a lush, almost hypnotizing beauty. The album includes his "Mishima" and "Company" scores, as well as the piano-laced suite from "The Hours." The theme from "The Secret Agent" soundtrack is one of Glass' most haunting melodies, with a mysteriously dramatic quality that's almost Purcell-like. "Echorus" is another Baroque-channeling highlight, violins singing bittersweet over a slowly rocking rhythm. From one end of the album to the other, it feels like one long song, in the best sense." – Bradley Bambarger, The Star-Ledger (Newark)