Philip Glass

Naqoyqatsi [Original Motion Picture Soundtrack]

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It is always impressive to hear an ensemble that plays well together, not only in terms of tonality, but also in tempo, and with sensitivity to other aspects of performance. While that is expected of professional musicians, it's surprising how often this is not the case on CDs. Members of the Philip Glass Ensemble had been working with each other and with the composer for a while and, therefore, perform Glass' music quite competently. The pick-up orchestra members employed on the Naqoyqatsi soundtrack should also get excellent marks. For that matter, so should conductor Michael Riesman, who has worked on all three Qatsi films. Even listeners who do not like Glass' music will admire the skill it takes to clearly execute keep those repetive rhythms and tones. The soloists, too, deserve praise. Ma plays in his usual musically sensitive way: on one track, it is interesting to hear the vocal soloist match timbre with the cello, sparking brief flashes where the two sound like one. Although recording the parts separately and then tweaking and mixing them back together could have "artificially" produced some of the cohesion (in which case credit should go to the engineers and editors), the musicians still deserve a lot of credit.

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