Besides having a flourishing career as a composer, Steffen Schleiermacher has made a name for himself as a pianist and conductor, focusing on new music. This MDG release features three very early works by Philip Glass from 1968 and 1969, Music in Similar Motion, How Now, and Music in Fifths. The works are stylistically closely related and come from a point in the composer's career when he was exploring the use of repetitive structures varied through additive and subtractive processes. Their tonality, limited pitch material, and constant rhythmic patterns gave rise to the popular misconception that Glass' music is about nothing but repetition. Attentive listening (or any real listening at all) reveals that there is a great deal more going on, and that in spite of the simplicity of the material, Glass' radical techniques could produce music of considerable subtlety and seriousness of intent, as well as having a surface that, for certain audiences, was compelling and immensely appealing. Much of his work from this period was created with the possibility of being performed by a variety of flexible instrumental combinations, and for this recording, Schleiermacher performs Music in Similar Motion and Music in Fifths on organ and How Now on piano. He plays with the objectivity Glass intended, and also with the energy and focus that give the music the kind of vitality it had when Glass and his Ensemble introduced it 40 years earlier. MDG's natural and unprocessed sound is, as usual, immaculate, but in the organ works listeners may want to adjust the volume downward a little because the level of very high overtones produced by the instrument can be piercing.
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AllMusic Review by Stephen Eddins