Philip Glass: Metamorphosis; The Hours

Lavinia Meijer

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Philip Glass: Metamorphosis; The Hours Review

by James Manheim

This CD of transcriptions of Philip Glass' music for harp, created by Korean-Dutch harpist Lavinia Meijer herself, comes pre-approved by the composer, who heard Meijer playing the transcriptions of Metamorphosis (1988) and encouraged her to pursue further experiments in the same vein. You can see what he liked about the harp in his music. On one hand, it's a close substitute for a piano, which is involved in the originals of all three of these transcriptions. The excerpts from The Hours (tracks 7-12) were transcribed from a piano version of the original Nicole Kidman film soundtrack score, and unsurprisingly Meijer said that of the three works, that one gave her the most trouble. But the harp is not equivalent to the piano in Glass' textures. Instead, with its greater variety of sonorities and attacks, it adds a slight elaboration to Glass' basic structures. And this is where the sound must have caught the composer's attention: the kind of details Meijer adds to the music is the same as what Glass himself has added to his music over the years. The result is an unusually satisfying way to encounter the music of Philip Glass, even though he, unlike Arvo Pärt, has rarely been subject to transcription. Audiophiles may have their own reasons for acquiring this release; Channel Classics' Super Audio recording (sampled here on a good conventional stereo) does an astonishingly good job in capturing the tonal subtleties of the harp.

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