Maria Bachmann

Glass Heart

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Philip Glass' Orange Mountain Music label has experimented with combining his new music with classical compositions of earlier eras, intending to delineate similarities in texture and mood even as Glass himself has increasingly set his trademark minimalist textures against styles drawn from music from Baroque to Romantic. The ideas in both cases are novel: minimalism, except insofar as it has influenced electronica music, has largely inhabited a world of its own. And Glass has achieved some strong results with his Baroque-vs.-minimalist American Four Seasons violin concerto, and with the Orange Mountain release featuring a sextet arrangement of a Glass symphony paired with, of all things, Schoenberg's Verklärte Nacht. Neither enterprise succeeds quite as well here. Glass' Violin Sonata No. 1 was premiered by the present performers, who seem well acquainted with it. But its range is less broad than that of the Four Seasons concerto, with a rather schematic opposition of melody and rhythmic-repetitive figuration. It's hard to hear the "similar pathos" violinist Maria Bachmann claims to find in the Glass and in the Schubert Violin Sonata in A major, Op. 162, and the similarities with the Bach/Gounod Ave Maria and the early Ravel Violin Sonata, Op. posth., are superficial. The problems are compounded by ghastly graphic design in the booklet, but the sound, as usual with Glass projects, is fine, and Glass fans may well be interested in this continuing extension of a new direction in his late career.

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