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Music Consumption: Philip Glass
05/02/1998 Philip Glass

Just picked up Philip Glass's Satyagraha on vinyl. Unfortunately, it's not in the same pristine condition my copy of Einstein on the Beach is in.

So far, the strange thing about Satyagraha for me is the absense of the electric organ sound--it's scored for full orchestra. I've listened to the first of 3 LPs, so more to come.

03/09/1998 Philip Glass: Einstein on the Beach

Philip Glass's Einstein on the Beach

The CBS vinyl set with booklet. I got this for $15 at a used record store. It had been played once, if at all. It's a stunning piece of work. While it's edited it down to fit on 4 LPs, there's still a lot to listen to. I've seen a few comments from Glass to the effect that "minimalism" is not a word that's at all applicable to his work, and I'd agree--particularly after hearing the work of La Monte Young, some of whose pieces truly are minimal (and which I like). There's a lot going on in Glass's work, but it's not beating you over the head with busyness. (Well, maybe it's beating you over the head, but not me.)

One of the most impressive moments for me is the first Knee Play, in which the two principle actresses/speakers/dancers speak one of the texts canonically. It's disorienting and strangely moving. The opera is hypnotic and transporting, as well as clear-headed, neutral, nostalgic, and late-night-lonely. Be open to it.

03/09/1998 Philip Glass: Kundun

Also worth checking out is the movie Kundun and its soundtrack, which Glass did also. The Glass/Tibetan combination is frighteningly powerful. On NPR's Weekend Edition, there's a weekly review of film scores nominated for the Academy Awards; this week they covered Kundun along with another soundtrack. I thought they gave it short shrift--while they waxed over Danny Elfman's various attributes, the host and the musical expert guest didn't know what to make of Glass's work, particularly complaining about Glass's choice of abrupt endings to pieces, as well as discussing his work in terms of minimalism, which is inaccurate. I guess Glass's work is sort of like Feminism--there's some people who just don't get it.