glass notes
Looking Ahead…Spring Events

I was at the Met Opera last night seeing Das Rheingold.  It was excellent but its modern production really got me thinking and excited to see Satyagraha there again in the fall.  November isn't that far away.

Long Beach Opera finishes its run of Akhnaten performances to generally great reviews. Robert McDuffie is still touring the world championing the Glass work that was recently written for him, Violin Concerto No.2.  Coming up in April and May, the performance calendar is mostly filled with Glass events at which Philip Glass is playing himself or attending.

This run includes solo piano concerts in places like Burlington VT and Napa CA.  Glass will be up in San Francisco as well for performances of Lucinda Childs' DANCE.  Then in MAY the place to be for Glass fans is Zurich Switzerland (also going to Holland, Spain, and Sweden). 

Zurich is hosting a week long celebration of Glass's music including a solo piano performance, a chamber performance with Glass and Tim Fain, a presentation of the opera In the Penal Colony (Kafka), Michael Riesman leading the Zurich Chamber Orchestra in an evening of Glass film music.

Meanwhile, back across the ocean the LONG OVERDUE New York premiere of Glass's Fourth Symphony "HEROES" will happen on May, the Fort Worth Opera will be staging Hydrogen Jukebox, and our old friend Ralf Gothoni (conductor on Concerto Project Vol.II) will continue his performances of the Tirol Concerto in South Korea after having recently performed the piece in Japan.

3 thoughts on “Looking Ahead…Spring Events”

  1. After a road trip of about 170 miles (we live near Montreal) we reach, my wife Eve and I, this quiet and welcoming lttle town of Burlington, Vermont where we attended on Saturday April 2nd, the Philip Glass performance at the Flynn Center for Performing Arts.
    Of course, I was very excited as it was the first time I had the opportunity to see and foremost hear Philip Glass in concert.
    Alas, it was far under my expectations which were too high, I think…
    Glass performance lasted a little less of an hour.
    I suppose I know what it should be to play that long when you’re 74 (I’m 70 myself) but for the aficionado time doesn’t count except when it’s too short!
    About the program: Glass had to choose from a various list of pieces: Six Etudes (1, 2, 3, 6, 9, 10), Mad Rush, Metamorphosis (2, 3, 4), Dreaming Awake, and Wichita Vortex Sutra.
    From this list he delivered us the Etudes, Metamorphosis 1 and 2 and two excerpts from Glassworks (Opening and Closing, which are “very similar” as he stated which a little touch of humor in his announce!).
    Glass played a Steinway & Sons and the acoustics were excellent even if the mikes delivered a little transformed sound giving us the sensation we were listening no more than a recording instead of a live instrument. Everyone knows the difference and will understand what I mean…
    About the quality, I am a little bit dubious…
    I think Glass piano works are often better served by other performers than himself (Namekawa, Riesman, Parlić, Davies, Van Veen, Karis, etc).
    Except for Metamorphosis 2 which was a moving performance, a pure jewel of sensibility and nostalgia served by a wonderful technic, his global performance was no more than honest.
    Please, don’t think I want to be too rude. I only express my own opinion and maybe other attendants (and specialists!) can have a completely different one because of our different perception…
    Glass Show was followed by an wonderful performance of Lucinda Childs’ dancers on parts of “Dance 1-5” presenting, behind a clear and translucent screen, a breathtaking version in full synchronization between images of the 1979 Sol LeWitt film and their live steps.
    In conclusion, I can say despite of the above I really enjoyed the event.
    My wife (who plays some piano) enjoyed it much more than I did. She could (better than I) describe what she felt… Maybe she’s the right view of things…

  2. I agree with you, I too was lucky enough to attend a Philip Glass recital and was disapointed. To appreciate it I think you musn’t expect it to be like when you’re going to see a professional pianist; it’s more like being in the study of the composer, watching him creat his piece.
    Also specialists (and non-specialists) can hear that his piano level isn’t extraordinary and Glass readily admits it
    But I really understand the feeling, you love so much his music and admire the man that you feel he doesn’t live up to your expectations…Well not everybody can be Liszt, a great composer and a great performer.
    I’d like to know from people how have been to a performance of the PGE, are they good ? I mean there is a gap between Philip Glass’ piano playing on a cd and live, is there that same gap with the PGE ?

  3. I’ve touched on this subject numerous times before on this site but this seems like an oppropriate time to restate my opinion.
    I don’t get it. I’ve heard Mr. Glass perform live as recently as late 2009 so I have a pretty good idea of what he sounds like both live and on record. My concert lasted longer (an hour and forty minutes) so I am not sure if this is what contributed to my overall sense of satisfaction but as I drove away from Cleleland to Cinicinnati (about 130 miles) I was both pleased and excited.
    I would be inclined to think that the (rather vast) differences of opinion might be due to objective differences in quality if it wasn’t for the fact that over the years I’ve realized that even Glass fans tend to listen and experience his music (if not differently then at least) with accent on different things.
    Take the afforementioned Parlic, for instance. I won’t argue with the fact that she is a superior pianist. But what she does to some of Glass music, to me, comes close to buthering it. She plays it so smoothly that I feel she loses much of the neuance in the process. Some people say that Glass is not a very good pianist. I disagree strongly. I think he is quite superb with only his age quite understandably affecting his playing somewhat (in some instances more so than others). Oveall, though, I think that the very things I enjoy about his playing (the subtle pauses, the shifts in his keystrokes, even while playing the same notes, i.e. the things that indicate to me that he actually knows exactly what he is doing – are taken by others as a sign of subpar skill). I happen to think that all of these things are delibirate as they are the very things that make the pieces for me. Take Etude #6 for example, my favorite. There pauses in Glass’s performance that break up the flow of the piece and create a sense of beauty and presense. Pauses, that I find rather deliberate, and are completely absent in the other recordings of this etudes. Dennis Russell (whom I quite like, by the way) Davis and Maki Namekawa (who was mentioned) above released a recording of some of these etudes with their own inflections and pauses. These were all rathrer measured, and, to me largely long and obvious and displayed much less interesting understanding of the pieces. I know which version I go back to each time.
    Some people would have enjoyed those pieces more if they were played evenly, smoothly and with constant tempo. I would say that I disagree. And also, at no point when I listened to Mr. Glass play have I felt like I was hearing a recording, mike and all.

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