glass notes
Symphony No.10; symphony performances

So tomorrow night the BBC Proms will host the UK premiere of Glass' Symphony No.10 by the Aurora Orchestra under the direction of
Nicholas Collon.  Ten days later the US Premiere will take place at the Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music with the festival orchestra conducted by Brad Lubman, and then on September 8th the symphony will have its Austrian premiere with Glass-band par excellence Bruckner Orchester Linz at the Brucknerhaus under Dennis Russell Davies (word on the street it that it may have been recorded in July in Linz.)

With the world premiere of No.10 in France last year in Aix-en-Provence, then subsequent performances in Paris and Berlin, now three more performances, the success of No.10 now having had performances in five different countries within a year, shows how odd symphony programming can be. 

I am certainly not complaining.  A performance is a performance.  However, a great many of Glass symphonies haven't been heard in a great many places and should be.  For example, the Proms hosted Symphony No.7 "Toltec" in 2009, but the arguably superior piece Symphony No.8 still has not been heard live in the UK.  Neither has Symphony No.9 been heard in the UK.

A few years ago I noticed a performance of Glass' second symphony at a small college in Northern California, that turned out to be the West Coast premiere of the work.  Symphony No.8 premiered in Brooklyn in 2005, it hasn't been heard in the USA since that time. 

Slowly but surely things are changing. For a very long time Dennis Russell Davies was the only champion of this body of work.  You see that Marin Alsop has recorded Symphonies Nos.2,3,and 4.  Symphony No.9 was commissioned and performed by the Los Angeles Philharmonic conducted by John Adams and Symphony No.3 will be done at the Hollywood Bowl (Sept.5), and No.3 will be done in Paris in September (though No.3 and 10 remain the only Glass symphonies to be heard in Paris).  Symphony No.8 was recently done in Australia and Symphony No.6 was done down-under two seasons ago and will soon be done in Switzerland this season.

Problably because of the economics of scale, Symphony No.3 remains the most popular Glass symphony if not his most popular concert work.  Scored for 19 strings, it's been recorded three times (Davies, Alsop, and Manson) and was toured last year in Canada by Manson last year.

Recording Pick of the Day: Marin Alsop, Bournemouth Symphony OrchestraGLASS: Symphony No.2


9 thoughts on “Symphony No.10; symphony performances”

  1. The London Symphony Orchestra
    haven’t performed any of Glass’ orchestral pieces since
    2010! Maybe they should commission Symphony No. 9 and 10 for their 2014/15 season.

  2. Number 8 was also played at the Cabrillo festival in August 2007, along with pieces by Bates and Ades, so it did get at least one other performance in the US. It was very stirring to hear it live and I’m looking forward to the 10th.

  3. Just got in from the Royal Albert Hall – I was there! Symphony no.10 is a barnstomer. Big ostinati (a development from the glorious blazing brass of 2nd movement of symphony #9) and a virtuosic finale. Breathtaking. I need to go calm down!

  4. I listened to Symphony No. 10 on BBC iPlayer yesterday afternoon.
    It’s a great symphony and probably one of his finest!
    I’ll listen to it again at some point.

  5. # 10 is a great symphony. I’ve listened to almost every morning for the last 2 weeks. Gets the blood going. It’s non-descript, yet seems to describe everything.

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