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A competent performance of a standard Glassian work.
on 19 April 2007
Philip Glass himself writes in the CD sleeve a brief introduction that is both forthright and yet cryptic to this work. He tells us the form of each of the three movements but there is no explanation for why he chose those forms or any inkling behind the inspiration for the content. The result, for me, is a disjointed work, each of the three movements seeming to bear little contact with the others.
Much of the content is standard Glassian fare. The opening movement is very good, very strident and full of thematic riches with interesting developments. The second movement is a passacaglia that progresses slowly under its own leaden weight rather than by the intrinsic rhythm. The final movement is again, for me, weighed down by its own langour. No movement could stand on its own, and yet neither do they relate to each other. The result is a patchy and ultimately unsatisfactory work.
That being said, the performance by the Bruckner Orchestra under Dennis Russell Davies is very good. They commissioned the work, having previously given the European premier of Glass's sixth symphony. They demonstrate here the required strong rhythmic discipline and a richness of sound that cannot be faulted.