Craig Morris

Philip Glass: Three Pieces in the Shape of a Square

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You may wonder why you need an album of three rather obscure Philip Glass pieces arranged for solo trumpet, amounting to more than 50 minutes of music. Sample Gradus to give it a try: not only does veteran American trumpeter Craig Morris accomplish prodigious feats of marathon breath control, but the trumpet versions actually add something to the music (and Glass has been open to transcriptions of his music in the past). The second and third of the three works on the album come from the 1960s, early in his career, when he was studying in Paris with Nadia Boulanger but also, like so many other musicians of the time, when he became fascinated by Ravi Shankar and began to experiment with Indian additive rhythms. Gradus was originally for saxophone, and Morris' trumpet readings strip out the jazz connotations that were either secondary or not intended at all. The final Piece in the Shape of a Square of 1967 was originally for two flutes; Morris plays both parts here, overdubbed, making the work into a kind of Nancarrow-style virtuoso extravaganza. The opening Melodies are later pieces (from 1995), written as incidental music for a play by Jean Genet, and the work reveals a rather hidden lyrical side in Glass' oeuvre. Morris offers a fine cantabile that is heightened by Bridge's excellent engineering work in Mechanics Hall in Worcester, Massachusetts. This album was nominated for a Best Classical Instrumental Performance Award in 2018.

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