The music for Philip Glass’ second concerto for cello and orchestra is cobbled from a 2001 film score, Naqoyqatsi: Life as War. Glass seems to have particular success when using Hopi Indian words as musical inspiration. Remember the famous scores to the films Koyaanisqatsi and Powaqqatsi?
While not a huge Glass fan, I’ve enjoyed some scores on recent CD releases. His Symphony No. 3 in a fine performance with Anne Manson conducting the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra springs to mind. As a ‘minimalist’ composer, with ostinato replacing melody for the most part, the rhythms (and underlying harmony) had better be interesting. The shorter works appeal to me much more than his much longer operas, Satyagraha, Akhenaten, and Einstein on the Beach. The 40 minute Cello Concerto No. 2 is such a work.
At times mysterious, tuneful, and very powerful, Glass has taken his musical imagery and has transcribed the notes beautifully as a concerted work. The concerto has seven movements and receives what I would assume is a definitive performance by cellist Matt Haimovitz.
Haimovitz’ tuning is flawless and his tone can sing beautifully above a full on orchestra. This music could sound pedestrian, but both soloist and orchestra have produced something special.
Not only is it a musical gem, this Orange Mountain Music CD, sourced from live performances in the Cincinnati Music Hall is a demonstration worthy recording. Rarely, I have heard a cello sound so natural in the digital domain. Audiophiles, grab this CD. All your friends will be asking for the info at listening sessions. And, audio show exhibitors, it’ll make such a nice change from Diana Krall ad nauseum!
Glass conducting specialist, Dennis Russell Davies keeps things moving nicely and the orchestra sounds inspired. Haimovitz’ studio of cellists at Montreal’s McGill University (where he is a professor) are a lucky bunch.
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Orange Mountain Music
Playing Time: 40:00