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Customer Review

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautifully orchestrated - see Indian music in a new light, 4 May 2007
This review is from: Passages (Audio CD)
Philip Glass is known for his monolithic minimalism, which I for one feel has been rather stale for some time. He apparently already studied with Shankar at the end of the sixties, when Shankar was at the height of international fame, what with the Beatles and everything.

It was a great idea to reunite the two as Shankar's influence adds a new lease of life to Glass's repetitions. The sleeve notes explain that for each piece one of the two composers came up with the themes which the other develops and arranges. The listener can have a lot of fun working out were certain fragments have come from. It's actually much harder than you'd think.

"Raga's in a Minor Scale" floats sitar and flute over gentle tablas. It doesn't seem to repeat itself very much, and the main melodic line is a typical Indian theme - it sounds as if it was based on a vocalised song. Strings bolster the whole thing, and from time to time the whole orchestra hangs on quickly descending arpeggios which you know come from Glass but still sound unique and unusual.

"Prashanti" sets a repeating zither theme against beautiful flutes and as above, rich modal themes from the strings are allowed to interject.

"Offering" begins with a typical Glass motif played on low strings and then the mournful main theme is played on . . . saxophone! The theme slowly progresses before trademark sawing Glass orchestrations work against the Shankar string melody. This is the track that will remind most listeners of Glass - fluttering flute arps, hovering strings, grating cellos, gentle piano melodies, it's all there.

"Sadhanipa" is my favourite, rich and peaceful and the hardest to unravel - to work out which composer has written which bit - and is all the more marvellous for it. The main themes are interspersed with jaunty dances that sound almost like hoedowns - could that be Ravi commenting on Phil's nationality?

I love this album and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys instrumental music. You don't have to be a fan of either composer to enjoy this and it works as well as a piece of pop music as much as a piece of world music or even classical music.
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