Rather than a formal year-in-review I'd just like to take a moment and take in what transpired in the last year in the Philip Glass world. 2010 saw the birth of a relatively small number of pieces published though they were two sizable pieces: The Double Concerto for Violin & Cello and the multimedia work – Icarus: At the Edge of Time.
The Double Concerto is a remarkable achievement. It my opinion it's unlike any concerto I know in its "anti" concertoness. Traditional models for concertos as show pieces either pit the soloist heroically against the orchestra, or organically ingrained in the fabric of the orchestra playing the whole time with the orchestra. Perhaps as a part of this originating as a commission for a ballet company, this piece has four duets for violin and cello – and three orchestral movements. It's not unlike the new violin concerto with its inclusion of solo pieces before the movements – the the role of the solists is unique during the orchestral movement as there's not much in the way of lyrical solos. The soloists play a unique role of really belonging to the orchestra, and occasionally standing out as soloist but not in a virtuosic way. Maybe that's the key to the whole piece.
Icarus is also unique in that's it's meant to be fun and for kids – but since it's Philip Glass, who as Errol Morris puts it, "does existential dread" better than anyone else, this kids story is horrifying in its own way with the child Icarus getting sucked into a black whole and coming out 10,000 years later, consequently losing his family and all his friends. A science lesson with a tough moral. Jeez.
However, Glass also worked on other music in 2010 including the entirety of his Partita for Solo Violin – a 30 minute concert work which will be premiere by Tim Fain in fall 2011.
On the recording front OMM was up to its shenanigans with major opera releases including Kepler and Orphée (Editor's Choice for Opera News and named this month as part of their BEST OF THE YEAR), very popular and tour-supported Violin Concerto No.2 "American Four Seasons", the Philip Glass – Live from SoHo show, and concluding with the premiere recording of the Glass Violin Sonata.
Performance wise the big highlight was Robert McDuffie's 30-city American tour with the Venice Baroque Orchestra which covered all the big cities including Chicago, the Herbst in San Fran, Disney Hall, and culminating with a performance last month at Carnegie Hall in New York. But there were others…Brooklyn Rider String Quartet continues to tour playing all the Glass Quartets, the English National Opera revived its production that it shares with the Met Opera of Satyagraha, the Netherlands Dance Theater performed to the Double Concerto on Tour in Holland, In the Penal Colony bowed in Paris, Dennis Russell Davies started a new Music Directorship with the Basel Symphony by performing Symphony No.2 and the Tirol Concerto as well as doing Symphony No.6 "Plutonian Ode" in Australia, the PGE performed Koyaanisqatsi with Orchestra for the second time with the Bergen Philharmonic, Music Theatre of Wales toured "In the Penal Colony", Signal performing Glassworks with Michael Riesman, Glasspieces was revived at NYC ballet, Lucinda Childs' DANCE toured the country…
…and some of this bleeds into 2011 with McDuffie continuing with his concerto in New Orleans, Dusseldorf, Salt Lake City, Nashville and others, Marin Alsop performing ICARUS in Baltimore in January, and a big event this spring when the Pacific Symphony brings back its 2006 commission the PASSION OF RAMAKRISHNA.
Things are good, let's hope it continues in the new year.