Composing the music for a theater piece revolving around the life and work of photographer Eadweard Muybridge must have seemed a natural fit for Philip Glass, as Muybridge's stop action studies of people and animals in motion have a clear visual analogy in Glass repeating musical cells. Scored for his ensemble accompanied by a chamber orchestra, The Photographer is one of the works bridging the gap between his earlier compositions up through Einstein on the Beach and his later pieces for more traditional instrumentation. The unusual feature here is the presence of violinist Paul Zukofsky in what amounts to a soloist's role, his sawing lines often reminding one incongruously of a hoe-down. While the opening vocal version of "Act I" has an almost too precious and dainty feel, the remainder of the album chugs along at a robust pace familiar to fans of Glass' music. When the final section bursts to life after a lengthy prologue, the brass sputtering, the bass lines percolating, one can hardly fail to admire his ability to excite an audience on a visceral level, even as one feels slightly guilty at the ease with which one has been manipulated.
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AllMusic Review by Brian Olewnick
|The Photographer, music-theatre piece|