Bruce Brubaker

Bruce Brubaker: Hope Street Tunnel Blues

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The piano may not be the ideal medium for capturing the expressive possibilities of Glass' style of minimalism, but pianist Bruce Brubaker selects pieces that work well on the instrument. Part of the problem with hearing Glass on the piano is forgetting the sound of his ensemble, and the variety of colors (and volume) they have imparted to similar music. Brubaker begins his recital of works by Glass and Alvin Curran with his transcription of "Knee Play 4" from Einstein on the Beach. It is in fact a lovely piece on the piano if one can put the spectacular power and tonal range of the instrumental version out of one's mind. "Opening" from Glassworks, originally scored for piano, works beautifully on the instrument, and flows as naturally as the C major Prelude from Book I of The Well Tempered Clavier. The two pieces by Curran, Hope Street Tunnel Blues III and Inner Cities II, use a syntax similar to Glass, with a more dissonant tonal vocabulary. Hope Street Tunnel Blues III has ample kinetic energy that gives it an exhilarating momentum. At a length of 20 minutes, Inner Cities II unfolds on a much larger canvass than the Glass pieces recorded here. While it's effectively atmospheric, it doesn't have enough of a clear structural framework to hold the listener's interest, and at the end, it includes an incongruous jazz lick that seems to have no relation to the rest of the piece. Brubaker plays with obvious commitment, and with sensitivity to the nuances required to keep the music of such repetitiveness moving, even though his "Opening" doesn't match the limpid lyricism of Glass' own performance.

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