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|1. In The Upper Room: Dance l|
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|6. Glasspiece # 1('Rubric')|
|7. Glasspiece # 2 ('Facades')|
|8. Glasspiece # 3 ('Funeral' From Akhnaten)|
On associe souvent Philip Glass à Steve Reich, Terry Riley et La Monte Young. Autant pour les deux premiers, la comparaison va de soi, même si chacun possède sa spécificité, autant pour le dernier, les préoccupations semblent différentes sinon opposées. Et ce Dance Pieces ne fait pas exception à la règle qui en témoigne. Là où La Monte Young se concentre sur la prolongation du son et les effets que cela produit sur l'auditeur, Glass part du constat qu'une note est constituée de cellules rythmiques répétées que nous ne pouvons percevoir, et l'illustre à l'échelle de ses compositions. À la notion de continuum, Philip Glass substitue donc celle de savantes figures répétées à satiété et progressivement superposées. Dans la seconde moitié de la carrière de Glass qui fait suite au retentissant Einstein On The Beach de 1976, Dance Pieces est avec North Star et The Photographer une des œuvres les plus convaincantes. --Hervé Comte
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Glasspieces was originally performed in 1983; the nine movement In the Upper Room suite premiered in 1986; and both accompanied a ballet performance. Neither of the pieces on this compilation are presented in their original (complete) form. Specifically, only five of the nine movements (selected by Glass himself) originally included on In the Upper Room are presented on Dancepieces, while only movements 4 and 5 were taken from the original six movement Glassworks (1982). Track eight represents a single movement taken from the Akhnaten suite (1987). Admittedly, the abbreviated version of In the Upper Room does not work very well. Then again, I really did not mind too much because the music is fascinating. Of the two pieces my favorite is the more subdued and gloomy In the Upper Room, which emphasizes "classical" instrumentation.
In large part, the music on this album is very brooding, reflective, and dominated by woodwind, brass and string instruments. There are however, some extremely "rhythmically charged" moments where just percussion and synthesizers are used, e.g. Glasspiece No.3 Funeral from Akhnaten. The technique of the musicians on Glasspiece No. 3 is particularly dazzling. Melodies are also sprinkled throughout and add a lot to the texture of each piece. Total running time of the CD is 45'45" with In the Upper Room clocking in at approximately 23'25" and Glasspieces at 22'18". There are a number of musicians on both pieces and In the Upper Room includes conductor Michael Reisman on piano and synthesizers (it sounds like an Oberheim polyphonic and possibly a Yamaha CS80 polyphonic). Fortunately, the synthesizer tone colors are very warm and do not sound (too) synthetic in a 1980s way. In addition to the keyboardist, there are a number of string, brass, and woodwind players. Synthesizer use is much heavier on Glasspieces, although the second Glasspiece movement is dominated by strings and woodwinds and is very haunting (my personal favorite). Although nearly all instrumental music, the addition of voice (Dora Ohrenstein) on both pieces was a very nice touch.
All in all I found this compilation to be a great introduction to the works of minimalist composer Philip Glass. Although I had objections to the "butchered" version of In the Upper Room it really was not all that bad - in fact I am inspired to seek out the original. Recommended along with works by other minimalist composers including Terry Riley, Steve Reich, and Lamonte Young.
Heard music from In the Upper Room performed by Pacific Northwest Ballet in Seattle which was fantastic, but the music on this record does not come up to the quality of the ballet performance. Wonder where they got their recording but no other recording is listed anywhere. Too bad.