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24 of 26 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Philip Glass - Solo Piano, 15 Jun 2007
This review is from: Glass: Solo Piano (Audio CD)
Solo Piano represents some of the more minimal work of Philip Glass. Very different in feel to say Powaqattsi or some of his other film scores this bears more resemblance to the soundtrack to The Hours. In fact part Two of Metamorphosis formed basis of the main theme from this soundtrack.

Whilst themeatically repetative throughout the CD, the various compositions were produced for different occasions, and collated on this album; Metamorphosis takes it's name from a play based on Kafka's short story. Parts Three and Four were written as accompaniment to the play, and parts One and Two use themes from Glass' soundtrack to The Thin Blue Line by Errol Morris. The piece Mad Rush was written for the Dalai Lama's public appearance in 1981 in New York for his entrance into the Cathedral of St. John the Divine played by Glass on the organ reinterpreted on this album for piano.

Metamorphosis sets the compositional style of the album with a recurring theme that is continued throughout all of the pieces. As the piece develops the complexity of the music increases. Rolling arpeggios are added to the main theme in Metamorphosis Two, and in Metamorphosis Three heavy yet refined chords are projected over the lulling main theme. Metamorphosis Four adds further complexity to the main theme reprising the rolling arpeggios as well as the chords from Two, which come across as stronger elements within the piece. Metamorphosis Five reprises Metamorphosis One yet the sound of the piano is dampened conveying a greater sense of simplicity and calm to the piece. The two pieces enclose the composition thematically and typify the change of mood throughout, finishing with little sense of relief.

Mad Rush continues the theme from Metamorphosis One yet as it develops it has a greater sense of power and the piece cascades feeling at some points like it is trying to overtake itself in some way. The main recurring theme however steps back in at these points providing a point of safety within the composition for the listener; the piece does not feel like it is going to quite fulfill itself. Themes from Metamorphosis are brought back including the rolling arpeggios, but with an added sense of urgency in this piece. Mad Rush does however not simply reuse old themes from Metamorphosis but creates themes of its own at certain points which are developed. The piece finishes with a similar feeling to the start having left behind the urgency of the middle part of the composition. To me this is the most successful composition on the album yet without the support of the other pieces may not recreate the same emotional response from the listener if heard in isolation.

Wichita Sutra Vortex begins with a new series of chord changes yet falls back in to the alternating notes of the main theme throughout the piece. The composition once again reinterprets some of the earlier themes from the previous parts of the album, but with a similar urgency to Mad Rush as well as a slight feeling of anger in the tempo of the chords. I feel that for the closing piece of the album, Wichita Sutra Vortex could provide an emotional response as strong as Mad Rush, and this feels to me like the weakest part of the album.

From what I have heard of Philip Glass' work this for me includes some of his best work. It is incredibly powerful yet with a subtelty which I have yet to hear elsewhere. Listened to in the right atmosphere this album will really take you on a journey for 50 minutes which will somehow seem different every time. The fact that the composer is the performer on the album allows the listener to experience exactly what Glass wanted, and the simplicity of the music allows the performer to play the composition exactly how he feels it should be without too much technical difficulty. The music also allows itself to be heard incidental to something else as originally written and provides beautiful background music to the right type of literature.

The album at times feels dark yet allows this to be released at times with the themes which run through all of the compositions, and it is this emotion with allows the repetitive nature of the music to not become stale. A brilliant composition and a perfect introduction to the work of Philip Glass.
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