Music by Philip Glass
The Philip Glass Ensemble & Guests
Michael Riesman, Conductor


Sony Masterworks MK 39539


1 Dance I 1:10
2 Dance II 5:42
3 Dance V 3:21
4 Dance VIII 4:58
5 Dance IX 8:08
6 Glasspiece #1 (“Rubric” from Glassworks) 6:03
7 Glasspiece #2 (“Façades” from Glassworks) 7:20
8 Glasspiece #3 (“Funeral” from Akhnaten) 8:52


Glasspieces, with choreography by Jerome Robbins, was first performed by the New York City Ballet on May 12, 1983. The New York Times dance critic Anna Kisselgoff wrote: “When it opens, with thirty-six dancers in brightly colored practice clothes crisscrossing the stage in carefully planned patterns — all brilliantly set off against a graph-paper backcloth— the effect is both rich and uncluttered.” Glass’s music often stops without warning, and Robbins’s dances do the same. “Suddenly,” Tobi Tobias noted in New York, “as if there was a glitch in the city’s heartbeat, all motion stops dead, and a second later the lights are quenched.”

“Rubric” and “Façades”, the first two parts of Glasspieces, are the fifth and sixth sections of Glass’s first CBS recording, Glassworks. At the ballet they were played in Glass’s revised version for full orchestra; they are heard here, as they were on the earlier record, in their original scoring for the Philip Glass Ensemble.

The third part was the first music ever heard in public from Glass’s opera Akhnaten, which received its full premiere in Stuttgart almost exactly a year after the first performance of the ballet. It’s the opening scene of the Opera, and — with a barbaric splendor never heard from Glass before— depicts a solemn ceremony in ancient Egypt, the funeral of Pharaoh Akhnaten’s father. The music, originally for full orchestra, is heard here in the reduced but still chilling version that the Philip Glass Ensemble plays on its concert tours.

— Gregory Sandow

The collaboration of Philip Glass and Twyla Tharp also united two stars of contemporary music and dance. Commissioned by Tharp for her newly structured company Twyla Tharp Dance, In the Upper Room premiered as an untitled work-in-progress on July 7, 1986, at the Saratoga Arts Center Little Theater, where the audience’s enthusiasm and subsequent reviews immediately hailed it as a new, dynamic creation.

Divided into nine segments (five of which were chosen by Glass for this album), In the Upper Room features thirteen dancers, whose costumes evolve from black and white to dominant red, in a variety of groupings and abstract styles (some on pointes, some in sneakers) that culminates in a dazzling finale for the entire ensemble.

Glass’s music and Tharp’s inventive juxtaposition of modern dance and more traditional ballet elements were praised by the Wall Street Journal reviewer Dale Harris: “The Glass piece takes possession of our emotions, as it were, subliminally, through our growing awareness of its complex and harmonious structure. Though its subject, or content, is indescribable except in terms of the steps, rhythms and strategies for deploying space that the choreographer has devised for her wonderful dancers, the expressive force of the work is so clear, so vividly communicated, that the audience can hardly help but give it an ovation.”

Hailed by critics as a revelation, Richard Christiansen of the Chicago Tribune wrote of the work: “…A smashing reaffirmation of [Tharp’s] genius and a thrilling extension of her vision of dance theater, challenging her dancers to exceed themselves in the speed and grace of their execution. A large part of the piece’s impact comes from the grandeur of Philip Glass’s electronic score, which invests his repetitive rhythms with a rich new texture and strong melodic line…”


Music composed and arranged by Philip Glass. Produced by Kurt Munkacsi for Euphorbia Productions, Ltd., N.Y., N.Y. Conducted by Michael Riesman.

In the Upper Room: Piano and synthesizers: Michael Riesman. Violins: Elliot Rosoff, Anahid Ajemian, Sanford Allen, Mayuki Fukuhara, Jill Jaffe, Carol Pool. Violas: Harold Colleta, Jill Jaffe. Sol Greitzer. Cello: Fred Zlotkin. Bass: John Beal. Trumpets: William Rohdin, William Rueckenwald, Wilmer Wise. French horns: Joseph Anderer, Robert Carlisle, Sharon Moe. Trombones: Dennis Elliot, Alan Raph, Robert Smith. Flutes: Paul Dunkel, Jack Kripl. Clarinet: Jerry Kirkbride. Soprano saxophone: Jon Gibson. Tenor saxophone: Richard Peck. Percussion: Emu Lator. Voice: Dora Ohrenstein. Recorded and digitally mixed at The Living Room, Inc., N.Y., N.Y. Engineers: Don Christensen and Kurt Munkacsi.
GlassPieces: Keyboards: Michael Riesman. Violas: Linda Moss, Lois Martin, Julian Barber, Al Brown, Maureen Gallagher. Cellos: Seymour Barab, John Abramowitz, Fred Zlotkin. French horns: Sharon Moe, Larry Wechsler. Flute & Piccolo: Jack Kripl. Drums: Don Christensen. Soprano saxophones: Jon Gibson, Richard Peck, Jack Kripl (Glasspiece #2). Tenor saxophone: Richard Peck. Voice: Dora Ohrenstein. Recorded and digitally mixed at Greene St. Recording Studio, N.Y., N.Y. Engineer: Kurt Munkacsi.

Cover design: Steve Byram. Computer graphic: Natale East.

Music published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP), N.Y., N.Y. © 1982, 1987 Sony Music Entertainment Inc.



In the Upper Room

Akhnaten on Sony Masterworks
Glassworks on Sony Masterworks