Music in the Shape of a Square
Music by Philip Glass
Performed by Alter Ego


Stradivarius STR 33602


1 Music in Similar Motion 12:38
2 Strung Out 14:28
3 Piece in the Shape of a Square 11:27
4 Gradus 10:19
5 Music in Contrary Motion 28:35


On 30 June 1999, the ensemble Alter Ego performed a concert of works by Philip Glass at the Opera Paese Gallery in Rome, one of the most innovative musical venues in the city and where Alter Ego has played regularly since 1996. Glass himself was present at this performance which was a replica of his own famous debut concert at the New York Film-Makers Cinemateque in September 1968. Under the guidance of Pietro Fortuna, the artists of the Opera Paese Gallery faithfully reconstructed the geometric installations which Glass had originally called for at that first performance. And over thirty years later, the audience in Rome gave the concert the same positive, enthusiastic reception it had enjoyed in New York — to the extent that Glass himself was suprised, as indeed he was by the modernity and abstract nature of several of his early compositions which he had neither played nor heard since that time.

2001 marks the tenth anniversary of the foundation of the ensemble Alter Ego which has earned a reputation as one of the major European chamber groups performing twentieth-century classical compositions and works at the cutting edge of new directions in music. Alter Ego has given concerts at principal venues in Italy, Europe and elsewhere, such as the Scala in Milan, the Accademia di Santa Cecilia in Rome, the Beethovenhalle in Bonn, De Yjsbreker in Amsterdam, Musica in Strasburg, Nybrokaien 11 in Stockholm, the Akademie der Kunste in Berlin and the lllkom in Tashkent. Nonetheless, the ensemble has never felt that its sole purpose was to perform music in a traditional manner or setting, its prime objective being the development of creativity in contemporary art. This has constantly meant new, stimulating experiences as the ensemble works with artists from various disciplines, such as Italian rapper Frankie HI-NRG, DJ Robin Rimbaud (aka Scanner), visual artists Michelangelo Pistoletto and D-Fuse and performers synonymous with the musical avant-garde such as violinist Irvine Arditti or the Accroche Note ensemble. Such wide-ranging collaborations are also the result of Alter Ego’s conviction that the language of contemporary music will make greater sense if perceived as part of a total performance and a cultural event and will thus be understood by a broader audience than normally associated with the genre.

The Alter Ego ensemble also works closely with many of the major composers of our time, including Alvin Curran, Philip Glass, Giya Kancheli, David Lang, Frederic Rzewski and Kaija Saariaho. And Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino has declared that Alter Ego’s performances of his works are the benchmark by which all others are to be judged. It is thus wholly fitting that Alter Ego’s recording of various compositions by Sciarrino, “Esplorazione Del Bianco” on the Stradivarius label, should win the unanimous approval of both critics and record buyers.


Music composed by Philip Glass.

Music performed by Alter Ego: Manuel Zurria, flute; Paolo Ravaglia, clarinet; Francesco Peverini, violin; Francesco Dillon, cello; Oscar Pizzo, keyboard; Gianluca Ruggeri, marimba.

World première recording of Piece in the Shape of a Square (1968) for two flutes.

First recordings of the versions of Gradus (1968), for bass clarinet and Music in Contrary Motion (1969), for ensemble.

This version of Gradus, for bass clarinet, originally written for soprano saxophone, has been approved by the composer. The work Piece in the Shape of a Square has been performed using the overdubbing technique.

Recording: Montevarchi (AR) 16-17 Dicembre 1999. Recording engineer: Valter B. Neri. Digital editing: Paolo Ravaglia / Valter B. Neri.

Special thanks to Pietro Fortuna, Opera Paese, Roberto e Valeria Elli, Marcello Panni, Salvatore Sciarrino.

Philip Glass’s music is published and managed by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP), New York.

© 2001 Stradivarius. All rights reserved worldwide.