glass notes
String Quartets

Brooklyn Rider String Quartet was in the Looking Glass Studios last week performing all the string quartets composed by Philip Glass.  All 5 of them?  No.  All 6 of them.

A shout out to the cast and crew of tomorrow's London performance of "Waiting for the Barbarians."  I am a great fan of this work and cannot advocate for it enough.  Sadly, London will be the end of the line for the current production. I never had the opportunity to see the production live though I have seen video. I was well familiar with the artistry of Eugene Perry and his great dedication to PG's music and new music in general. The great revelation to me was the wonderful creation of the Magistrate by British baritone Richard Salter. Who is this guy?  I gather that he used to be a member of the King's Singers. However in this age of hype and marketing, I was frankly amazed that such a wonderful singer could be unheard of by a greater public at this point into his career.  This type of performance is what people mean when they say a singer defines a role.  It will be hard to ever consider another singer as the Magistrate.  Anyone within 100 miles of tthe Barbican should take this chance to hear this opera. 

8 thoughts on “String Quartets”

  1. For years there has been only one (great) recording of the string quartets by the Kronos Quartet, and all of a sudden there are two more, by the Smith and the Brooklyn Rider Quartets. I’m looking forward to hearing their interpretations. The fifth string quartet is one of my favorite Glass-works.

  2. I was at the Barbican last night for Waiting for the Barabrians, and I have to say I was very disappointed. The prologue was good, but the only time the music really shone after that was when it reminded me of (the infinitely superior) Akhnaten. Glass has been accused of self-plagiarism before (The Hours) but this was treading-water stuff. There was very little life, no context, and I got tired of the pseudo-recitative style very quickly.
    I can listen to the most trivial and technical Glass with great pleasure – Another Look at Harmony Part IV, for example – but Barbarians did little to hold my attention. A very disappointing evening, displaying none of the zing that I was expecting. From the man who recently composed Songs and Poems for Solo Cello, I was hoping for some progress.

  3. To Willo the Wisp,
    It may be that Glass’s contemporary operatic style is just not to your taste. But it also may be that the musical value of Barbarians is subtle enough to depend on more hearings for appreciation. I love Barbarians as well as Akhnaten. Why not buy the Barbarians recording and listen to it several times before coming to a decision?

  4. Whoever posted the original quartets note did no one any service by teasing with a “sixth quartet.”
    Fans consult this site because they are serious about the music.

  5. Dear Litefoot,
    I don’t know what you mean. The revelation here is that before beginning the recording project to record all the Glass string quartets, OMM, like everyone else, knew of only the published 5 quartets. The composer was the one who informed OMM that a sixth existed. I am not sure what you mean by “fans consult this site because they are serious about the music.” I thought it would bring joy to people to know there existed a sixth. I believe the recording will be out in early 2008, and at some point it will be performed in public. The sixth quartet was composed in the mid-90s but has never been premiered. I assume the Brooklyn Rider quartet will be the ones to premiere it.
    I’m sorry for any confusion. Thank you for writing in.
    Richard Guerin

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