Glass Works on CD
Philip Glass' music has been recorded by many different
musicians at different times. Which recordings
come closest to Glass'
intentions? To answer that question we must
ascertain Glass' intentions,
and we might then ask if his intentions
have changed since he composed these pieces (c1967-69).
Whilst it would
be easy to assume that Glass' own recording(s) most successfully represent
I would like to explore all three and discuss the works
in detail. I want to look at 3 (groups
Music in 12 Parts (c1971-74)
Motion/Music in Fifths/Music in Similar Motion (all
Music with Changing Parts (PGE, 1971/93, Elektra Nonesuch)
/ (Icebreaker, 2007, OMM)
Philip Glass Ensemble: Two Pages/Contrary
Motion/Music in Fifths
Music in Similar Motion
(Elektra Nonesuch, 1973/1994).
P Glass, M Riesman, J Gibson, D Landry
& K Munkacsi.
Alter Ego: Music in the shape of
a Square (Stradivarius, dist. Milano Dischi,
M Zurria, P Ravaglia, F Peverini,
F Dillon & G Ruggeri
A Can: 5ths (Canteloupe Music, 2004).
R Black, D Cassin,
L Moore, M Stewart, W Sutter, E Ziporyn
One of the most obvious differences are the durations of each piece.
Two Pages: Glass; 17:56....Bang on a Can; 27:59
Contrary Motion: Glass;15:31...Alter Ego; 28:35
in Fifths: Glass; 23:29...Bang on a Can; 24:22
Music in Similar Motion: Glass; 17:11....Alter Ego; 12:38
Bang on a Can had only 2 pieces to fit onto a CD so could make these pieces
longer than Glass' recordings
as represented by Nonesuch. Alter Ego's
recording of Music in Contrary Motion represented an alternative
take on the work as Glass had recorded it as a solo electric organ work.
Alter Ego's CD also includes Glass'
Strung Out (1967) for amplified
violin, Piece in the shape of a square for two flutes (world
and a version of Gradus (originally for
soprano saxophone), for bass clarinet (a version approved by Glass).
Tim Page (1993) noted that Contrary Motion
in what Glass calls "open form"- it never really ends, it just stops.
The expanding figures upon which
it is contructed could, theoretically,
continue expanding forever. Should an interpreter care to take it that
a performance lasting hours, even days, would be possible." (Glass:
Two Pages etc, Nonesuch )
recordings also differ in the instruments used. For example the Bang
On A Can's recording of Two Pages
is for bass, marimba, piano,
guitar, cello and clarinet, whilst Glass' own recording is for electric
organ and piano.
In Contrary Motion differs even more in terms of instrumentation;
Glass used just one electric organ
whilst Alter Ego employed the whole
ensemble consisting of flute, clarinet, violin, cello, marimba &
In Fifths Glass again used an electric organ as well as soprano
saxophones with Kurt Munckasi,
the engineer, on electronics. Bang On
A Can again employed the whole ensemble.
original recordings were made by a "few" (Glass) musicians who were
'brave' enough to play it; at the time,
the music was very different
from any other music. Glass' musicians happened to be mostly keyboard
and sax/flute players. If Glass' original ensemble had been
made up of diferent instruments, would he have written
the same music
for them? Perhaps he was more interested in the content
of the music than the timbre of the sound.
Also listen to Philip
Keybaord Music and Dominic
Music in 12 Parts: OMM,
2008 / Elektra Nonesuch 1993
This was Glass the 'minimalist' saying 'this is
what I have done so far'. Like Glass' earlier work(s)
written for a dance/theatre work in collaboration with choreographer
Lucinda Childs & artist Sol le Wit,
the latter parts of Music in 12
Parts show him gradually increasing the harmonic range of his music
whilst retaining much of the rhythmic structure his music had.
The harmonic structure of Dance 4, which
lasts for about 23.5 minutes on the Philip Glass Ensemble recording
[ F - g7/Bb - Eb - Ab - A/E]
[F - g7/Bb
- Eb - Ab - Db - F# - B - E - A]
as Part 1
F - g7/Bb -
Eb - Ab - Db - F# - B - E