glass notes
Partita No.2 for Solo Cello – PREMIERE & RECORDING







The summer of love continues.  On June 15 Philip Glass will appear at the New York City Public Library as part of “A Mind of Music” with Paul Holdengraeber. Then on June 22, Glass will perform with Matt Haimovitz at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA in a special concert presenting the world premiere of Partita No.2 for Solo Cello.

That concert is next Thursday night, a few hours later at midnight (Friday) the new Orange Mountain Music recording “Philip Glass: Partitas for Solo Cello” with Haimovitz performing the world premiere recording of Partita No.2, a new recording of Partita No.1 “Songs & Poems”, The Secret Agent, and The Paris Sky from Book of Longing, will be released digitally on Apple Music.

The digital release takes place on June 22, with the CD release scheduled for July 14 (now available for pre-order at Amazon).

I have very clear memories around the release of “Songs & Poems” about ten years ago.  To many, it was a shock and represented a new artistic path for Philip Glass.  As popular radio host John Schafer put it:

“(Glass) was exploring new sonic territory in his symphonies at the time, and – in a very different way and on a very different scale – in these intimate cello works too. (Songs & Poems) was a huge surprise when it first came out in 2008 – the almost universal reaction was “that’s Philip Glass?!” For a composer whose style has become so well-known, and so often imitated, this was a kind of statement of intent: it was as if, at 70, Glass was saying “you can take the fork out of me – I’m not done yet.” 

In a recent interview, which I hope to publish next week, Glass described these pieces as almost a product of the time listening as a youth to all the Bach solo string music. He said when he was a kid, he obviously had no idea that he’d ever become a composer, but he relished all the different interpretations on recording.  So half a century later, the composition of the Glass partitas produced a curious effect, that Glass was “almost writing these pieces from memory.”  While Bach is the obvious model, at the same time these pieces are undeniably of Glass’ personal musical language. I think of them more as a direct product in equal measure pf what he experienced as a young child, in combination with his time with Boulanger in Paris and tempered by a lifetime of experience.

For those of you attending the Salem concert (sold out in less than 24 hours, but stay tuned to see if any additional tickets are released), the physical CD will be available for purchase at the concert.  I’ll be hosting the pre-concert discussion with Philip Glass at the museum. Hope to see you there. – Richard Guérin