Steffen Schleiermacher

Glass: Dances & Sonata

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The fact that Philip Glass' music stands up so well in a variety of arrangements is a testament to its durability. German composer and pianist/organist Steffen Schleiermacher offers a recital of two dances from Dance, Glass' monumental 1979 multimedia collaboration with choreographer Lucinda Childs and visual artist Sol Lewitt, arranged for organ, and Sonata, a transcription for piano of one section from each of Glass' three portrait operas, made by Paul Barnes. The dances, which frame the Sonata on the CD, are especially effective when performed on the organ, due to the grandeur of which the organ is capable, its ability to sustain notes without decay, and the fact that its sound is closely related to the electronic keyboards used in the original. There is more of a sonic leap from the wind and electronic sounds of Einstein on the Beach and the orchestras of Satyagraha and Akhnaten to a solo piano. The piano version of the Einstein interlude is very successful -- it reveals metrical and dynamic details that are more covered by the variety of instrumental colors in the opera. The valedictory serenity of the last scene of Satyagraha is not communicated as effectively in the second movement, which comes across as more leaden than transcendent in Barnes' arrangement. Schleiermacher plays with great energy and subtlety, bringing out the music's dynamic variety and metrical complexity. MDG's natural sound is lively and clean, and the organ, which is not identified in the notes, sounds wonderfully present -- both clean and resonant.

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