glass notes
Tibet Fund video – Mad Rush in 2 Parts

If you listen to Philip Glass' introduction to the piece, indeed "Mad Rush" was written for the occasion of the Dalai Lama's first address in New York at this very venue, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan. It's the world's largest gothic cathedral (though it remains unfinished).  How great it must have been to hear Glass perform the piece for the first time on the church's pipe organ?  But at that time, before it was given the name Mad Rush for a dance choreographed by Lucinda Childs. Up until that time it had been Part IV of the "Fourth Series:" a number of pieces which ended up as things like Modern Love Waltz and parts of Childs' "Dance" collaboration with Glass.

8 thoughts on “Tibet Fund video – Mad Rush in 2 Parts”

  1. Not to bash Mr. Glass, I’m a huge fan, but I have always thought that he is far from being the best performer of his own music (at least pianoforte music). Dave Brubecker, Donald Joyce, Dennis R. Davies, Michael Riesman, Paul Barnes etc.. are far better performers, and I’m not even talking about other composers’ music. This performance of Mad Rush is quite sloppy and muddy most of the times, really, and you can even hear a couple mistakes here and there, as much as I love the piece. Just follow this link, this relatively unknown pianist Branca Parlic does a far better job… Much smoother and more fluent, and not muddy during the fast arpeggiated runs. The difference is obvious to the ear and eyes.

  2. You are quite right, Esteban. Other pianists have performed Glass’ music better on a technical level. Though, at least for me, the pure charm of seeing and hearing the original composer performing his own works is priceless. I’d rather see Glass performing his own works with tons of mistakes than any other pianist perform them flawless.

  3. Glass doesn’t spend all day long practicing on the piano- he is writing music most of the time. Even though he makes mistakes, his performances are authoritative. Too many of the “virtuoso” pianists are hard to listen to- they may play note to note perfect, but they screw up the tempos, etc.

  4. I agree that it would be a thrill to see the composer of a piece play the music himself, especially if you attend a recital. At least for us who are fans… However, I feel that the lack of fluency of Glass or any other performer for that matter impedes the ‘effect’ of the music that the composer presumably intended… so that mesmerizing effect that the incessant repetition is supposed to produce is somewhat lost; something which does not happen in performances by Parlic or any of the aforementioned pianists. Nonetheless being a fan, of course I’d drive hours to see Glass live, although that is not what we’re discussing here. 🙂

  5. Esteban, I couldn’t disagree with you more.
    For one thing, Glass really IS a good pianists, and whatever mistakes he makes could be more attributed to his age than anything else. And I say this as someone who had both heard numerous recordings of his and had seen him perform live. At the same time, he doesn’t actually make that many mistakes to make it a huge issue for me.
    I do willingly aknowledge that this could be affect the enjoyment in others though.
    The main issue for me, however, is that the reason I prefer to listen to Glass’s recordings of his own material is that he simply does it better. Put it frankly, I frequintly get the impression that Parlic and most others either don’t get the music they are playing or don’t maximize it’s potential in the way glass does. Listening Glass’s Etudes I am absolutely aware of every time he slows down or accelerates the tempo, or the every time he changes emphasis. These aren’t just quirks as he knows exactly what he is doing. Others simply tend to play the music mechanically and with constant tempo and to me that detracts from the music’s sound and impact. What I am trying to say is that I prefer Glass’s version not because I am blinded due to being a fan but because the way he plays his music really makes it for me.
    As much as I like Dennis Russell Davis and consider him a terrific pianist I would not trade his version of attitudes or Parlic’s version of Mad Rush, etc. for the originals. Seriously if you ever paid attention to, say that micro pause in Etude #6 you will and how no one even tries to replicate it you will know EXACTLY what I mean.
    There are exceptions, too. I am quite fond of
    piano renditions of Michael Reisman and Paul Barnes. Even if they don’t normally overlap with the music Glass himself plays they tend to demonstrate a greater understanding of what it tries to go for.
    And it’s not like I am completely against different reinterpetations either. It’s just that they are hard to find. There’s “Aqus de Amazonia” which is amazing and “Glass Cuts” which is just ok.

  6. Lots of amazing things are disclosed in this music BY OTHER performers. Lets move beyond thinking Mr. Glass “created” these sounds. His performance is one possibility. Not the best, and not “authoritative”!

  7. Eric, please shows us aexactly what and who you are you referring. Let’s not keep this abstract.
    They may not be authorative… you know something, I am not even comfortable saying that because if someone is to be disignated as being authorative than it is usually the author – not just in how something is performed, per se, but in terms of the accents. So authorative or not, I am waiting to hear “better”.

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