Symphony No. 2
Music by Philip Glass
Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra
Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra
Rascher Saxophone Quartet
Dennis Russell Davies, conductor


Nonesuch 79496-2


1. Movement I 17:37
2. Movement II 13:42
3. Movement III 11:55

4. Interlude from OrphÉe (Act II, Scene 5) 6:27

5. Movement I 6:27
6. Movement II 4:56
7. Movement III 8:21
8. Movement IV 3:49


Symphony No. 2 (1994) was commissioned by Brooklyn Academy of Music; premiere October 15, 1994, by the Brooklyn Philharmonic Orchestra conducted by Dennis Russell Davies.

“I’ve been interested in polytonal music for some time, starting with Akhnaten… The great experiments of polytonality carried out in the 1930s and 40s show that there’s still a lot of work to be done in that area. Harmonic language and melodic language can coexist closely or at some calculated distance, and their relationship can be worked out in terms of either coexisting harmonies or ambiguous harmonies. Honegger, Milhaud, and Villa-Lobos — to name a few prominent polytonalists- pushed two tonalities together at the same time. But I’m more interested in the ambiguous qualities that can result from polytonality — how what you hear depends on how you focus your ear, how a listener’s perception of tonality can vary in the fashion of an optical illusion. We’re not talking about inventing a new language, but rather inventing new perceptions of existing languages.”

— Philip Glass

Orphée (1992) was commissioned by the American Repertory Theater; premiere May 19, 1993 at the Loeb Drama Center, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Based on Cocteau’s fascinating retelling of the Orpheus myth, Orphée, the first opera of Glass’ Cocteau Trilogy, is an extended parable on the life of an artist, a poet harassed and misunderstood by peers. His success leads to ridicule by fellow poets, ending in a creatively crippling isolation. With a renewed apprehension of his own mortality, Orphée regains his emotional strength, enabling him to ignore the trials of ordinary life, freeing him to be a poet. The poets Orphée and Cégeste, Euridice, and a mysterious Princess interact within the worlds of the living and the dead, existing in that mysterious realm that separates the two worlds. Love triumphs and thus returns Orphée and Euridice to mortal life, with no remaining consciousness of their unusual time spent between “the worlds.” The Princess has violated the laws of life and death one time too many and is banished into oblivion.

The instrumental section presented here accompanies Orphée’s return to his home from the world of the dead in Act II.

The Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra (1995) was commissioned by the Schleswig-Holstein Festival, the Swedish Radio Orchestra, the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, the Dortmund Symphony, and the I Fiamminghi Chamber Orchestra; premiere July 27, 1995 by the Raschèr Saxophone Quartet at the Schleswig-Holstein Musik Festival, Hasselburg, Germany.

The Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra was written for and dedicated to the Rascher Quartet. In the period 1995-1997, the Rascher Quartet performed the Concerto with more than 30 European and American orchestras, making it one of Glass’ most widely performed orchestral works.

The work is in four movements (slow-fast-slow-fast), with each movement featuring a different member of the quartet.


Original music composed by Philip Glass. Produced by Michael Riesman for Euphorbia Productions, Ltd. Executive Producer: Kurt Munkacsi.

Symphony No. 2 (1994): Performed by the Vienna Radio Symphony Orchestra. Conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Recorded September 1996 at the Austrian Broadcasting (ORF) Studios, Vienna. Engineer: Anton Reininger. Assistant Engineers: Robert Pavlecka, Stefan Lainer.

Interlude from Orphée (1992): Performed by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra. Conducted by Dennis Russell Davies. Recorded October 1996 at Liederkranzhalle, Stuttgart-Botnang. Engineer: Roland Rublé, Südwest-Tonstudio. Assistant Engineer: Wolfgang Mittermaier.

Concerto for Saxophone Quartet and Orchestra (1995

Design by Frank Olinsky. Cover photo: White House Ruin, Canyon de Chelly, Arizona by William Clift. Inlay photo: Canyon de Chelly, Arizona by William Clift. Photo of Philip Glass by Robin Holland.

Music Published by Dunvagen Music Publishers, Inc. (ASCAP). © 1998 Nonesuch Records.