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NY TIMES: Brad Lubman Revives Philip Glass’s ‘Glassworks’

The New York Times; February 4, 2011
Brad Lubman Revives Philip Glass’s ‘Glassworks’



Michael Riesman, keyboards; Signal, conducted by Brad Lubman. Orange Mountain Music 0073; CD.

When Philip Glass was signed to CBS (now Sony Classical) in 1981, the label insisted on introducing him with “Glassworks,” a collection of short pieces: exactly the opposite of the large, slowly unfolding scores for which he was famous. To Mr. Glass’s fans both the label’s demand and the composer’s compliance seemed odd, although his film scores for “North Star” (1977) and “Koyaanisqatsi” (1982) suggested that he was not entirely averse to brevity. And “Glassworks” had a way of growing on you. Looking back, you can clearly see that it was cut from the same cloth as the more highly regarded “Koyaanisqatsi.”

Still, “Glassworks” was a footnote in Mr. Glass’s catalog until last year, when Brad Lubman and his enterprising new-music band, Signal, decided to revive it in anticipation of its 30th anniversary. Michael Riesman, Mr. Glass’s keyboardist and music director, produced a fresh orchestration, with lines originally played on electronic keyboards transferred to woodwinds and horns. When Signal performed the work in April at Le Poisson Rouge, Mr. Riesman played the central piano part.

This CD was recorded at that concert. In some ways the original studio recording is preferable. Mr. Glass and his ensemble took the pieces at tempos consistently brisker than Mr. Lubman’s, and the textures of the original are often more tactile and more finely balanced. What the Signal performance has going for it is the electricity and the give and take of a live performance.

And if the slower tempos sacrifice something in mechanistic energy in fast movements like “Rubric,” they yield an attractive lyricism in the dreamier “Floe” and “Facades.”

Mr. Lubman and company also include a vigorous performance of “Music in Similar Motion” (1969), an intricate, mesmerizing work that makes “Glassworks” sound almost Neo-Romantic.

A version of this review appeared in print on February 6, 2011, on

page AR23 of the New York edition.

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