Piano Sonata


Maki Namekawa, Piano

Piano Sonata
1. Movement I 7:35
2. Movement II 10:35
3. Movement III 8:26

Passacaglia for Piano
4. Distant Figure – A Passacaglia 12:52

Etude No. 20
5. Etude No. 20 10:21


In late-June 2019, Glass discussed his Piano Sonata, talking about his relationship to the piece and to Maki Namekawa as the soloist. His assertion is that any music which is truly new or original has to confront two big issues: notation and performance practice. The first Piano Sonata is a piece “bursting with ideas”. These are ideas which in the first run-throughs of the piece seemed totally unconnected. Emerging through time, both Glass and Namekawa together began to understand how those ideas are connected. Glass stated, “The piece is too difficult for me to play. I can play some of it, sing some of it. But I won’t really know what it sounds like until someone like Maki performs it.” The challenge of the piece came to be the process, for both the composer and the performer, to understand it.

This is a fine point, not a question of analysis, but rather a question about how to play new music. The piece was composed, and could be played as soon as the music was printed. However, what Glass is talking about is discovering “How to get from A to Z. When that happens, that is when the real piece emerges.”

When Glass was reached in New York during intensive work sessions with Namekawa two weeks before the world premiere, he simply asked, “What is a piece, that’s never been performed before?”

The Glass Piano Sonata is 30 minutes long and is cast in three movements. Glass says that the piece is related to his work of the past two or three years, like his Symphony No.12 (2019) or his Percussion Quartet (2018), works that address the ways that specific instruments play the material.

“I began to write in a new way. This is the most sophisticated form of these ideas. I began to see how the music unraveled. It turns out that the piano is the best place to work out these kinds of things. It works like that sometimes for composers.”



Produced by Richard Guerin
Philip Glass’s music is published by Dunvagen Music: Adrienne White, Director
Executive Producers for Orange Mountain Music: Don Christensen & Philip Glass
Orange Mountain Music: Don Christensen, Director
© Dunvagen Music Publishers (ASCAP)
© 2020 Orange Mountain Music