The Philip Glass Ensemble: A Retrospective – Orange Mt.

by | Mar 20, 2011 | Classical CD Reviews | 0 comments

The Philip Glass Ensemble: A Retrospective = Dance 9; Music in 12 Parts (I); Music in 12 Parts (II); The Building; Facades; The Grid; The Photographer (Act II); Powaqatsi (Mosque/temple); Low Symphony Movement III; Akhnaten (Funeral); EOB (Spaceship) – The Philip Glass Ensemble – Orange Mountain Music 0067 (2 CDs), 106:35 [Distr. by Harmonia mundi] ****:
For those of you Glassites out there, you might want to know that this album was previously released as a download called Philip Glass Ensemble Live in Monterey in 2004. For those who loved this ensemble back in the path breaking, hippie-ingested and critic-confounding days of circa 1970, its all here again, recorded afresh only a few years ago, and they sound as adept and absorbed in their music-making as they ever did. As you can see by the head note, this is a nicely-broad selection of Glassware, though most of Disc 2 along with The Grid on Disc 1 are arrangements by Music Director and keyboardist Michael Riesman, giving the set a flavor that is a little unique.
I have made no bones about the way that Glass has seemed to replay himself over the years, but his influence is undeniable and his place in music history assured. What surprises me is that listening to a diverse collection like this brings out the best that Glass has to offer, the always musically astute cross-rhythms that sound so natural and yet are always surprising when he really begins to develop his material, and the simple and basic pattern runs that are nonetheless killers to play in such rapid repetition.
So close your eyes, pretend it’s 1970 again, and try to remember how new and irritating, astounding, and wonderfully iconoclastic all of this was in an age where Boulez, Stockhausen, Maderna, and Cage were ruling the roost, and then wonder who the real avant-garde artist was. Great sound, definitive playing.
— Steven Ritter

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