I am not ashamed to say that I am a Philip Glass (b. 1936) fan and am usually quick to pick up new recordings of his works. When Glass is at his most inventive, his music has an irresistible momentum and is highly inventive, defying expectations given the limited amount of harmonic and melodic material employed. With that said, I think the two pieces contained on the present release, while good, are not among Glass' most interesting works.
The Light is a 24-minute orchestral work dating from 1987, supposedly influenced by a scientific experiment supporting that the speed of light is uniform. Overall, the piece is far more interesting than the physics theories on which it is based, but the limited musical material does not support its extended length. Glass' fingerprints are readily apparent here, with endless arpeggiations, three versus two contrasts, and (of course) the "Da daah da Da daah da" rhythmic motif with which the followers of Glass are surely familiar. So,...
Heroes Symphony and The Light are written and performed with all that I have appreciated of Glass' music since I first heard the Philip Glass Ensemble in 1971. As with Handel, for example, parts of the symphonies are "taken from" previous works. These compositional liberties are not self-quoting, although they might be part of what a composer does to achieve an enormous life opus. They are welcome moments, such as when I am transported to a live performance of The Photographer in the midst of these much newer works.
I love this music and thank Glass and his collegues for it.
The Heroes Symphony is elegant music, but The Light is amazing. This work was commissioned by Case-Western Reserve University to commemorate the experiments by Albert A.Michelson at Case Tech that led to the measurements of the speed of light and the subsequent award of the 1907 Nobel Prize in Physics to Michelson. Philip Glass managed to capture perfectly the stages of science from hypothesis to design to execution to interpretation of the results, and encompassed beautifully the joy of an experimenter realizing that he/she knows something that no one has known before. This is truly unique music that is lovely in it's expression of the work of a very great scientist! Indeed, the only regret it has caused me is that Michelson died in 1931 and so missed hearing this wonderful tribute to his experiments.
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