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Minimal Music - Released September 29, 2003 | Sony Classical

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
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Film Soundtracks - Released January 1, 1983 | Island Records (The Island Def Jam Music Group / Universal Music)

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Philip Glass' score for Godfrey Reggio's 1983 film Koyaanisqatsi comes from one of his most fertile creative periods, soon after Satyagraha and about five years after Einstein on the Beach, and it contains some of his most immediately appealing music. For listeners who are not likely to wade into one of his huge operas, Koyaanisqatsi's manageable dimensions make it an ideal introduction to Glass' work (if there is in fact anyone out there who has not yet been introduced to it) because many of its sections are so memorably distinctive. The opening, with a broadly amplified very low bass intoning the film's title (which means "life out of balance" in Hopi) while the orchestra weaves an apocalyptically menacing web is one of Glass' most unforgettable inventions. The ululating chorus of mixed voices, "Vessels," at first unaccompanied, and then joined by the throbbing of instruments, is a marvel of open-throated lyricism that should dispel any stereotypical misconceptions of Glass as a rigidly mechanistic technician. The 1983 soundtrack includes about 46 minutes of music, a little more than half the length of the film. The strongest tracks are included, and while the listener with a passion for completeness may want to seek out the complete soundtrack, released for the first time in 2009, there is plenty here to savor. Glass' ensemble, as always, performs with mind-boggling discipline and soulful commitment, and because of the darkly pessimistic tone of the film, with a stark and sobering gravity. His use of a large ensemble of orchestral instruments, as well as the Western Wind Vocal Ensemble, along with electronic instruments, allows him a wide palette, ranging from the warm of human voices to the high-tech pulsing of synthesizers. Careful engineering is integral to Glass' compositional process, so the CD's sound is certainly his own best realization of his artistic vision. © TiVo
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Minimal Music - Released August 22, 1989 | Sony Classical

Distinctions Stereophile: Record To Die For
Mention "minimalism" and certain names will pop up, both within and outside of the classical world: Terry Riley, Steve Reich, John Adams. The most famous one, however, would be Philip Glass. Unlike most 20th Century composers, Glass has reached far beyond the concert hall: his work includes film soundtracks (THE TRUMAN SHOW, THE THIN BLUE LINE), multimedia presentations ('1000 Airplanes on the Roof"), and collaborations with pop/rock writers/performers (his SONGS FOR LIQUID DAYS album). With SOLO PIANO, Glass presents himself "unplugged" - no electronic keyboards or synthesizers, and no overdubs, either - just solo piano. Here, Glass' connection to the established "classical" tradition is most evident. Though his pieces are "minimal" (subtly altered repeated patterns or melodic motifs), yet they have an unsentimental beauty and heartfelt grace that one would hear in J.S. Bach's English Suites, as well as the piano music of Chopin and Erik Satie. Portions of the suite 'Metamorphosis' are based on Glass' score for THE THIN BLUE LINE; these short pieces are forlornly entrancing without being drippy or "trance-like." The finale, 'Wichita Sutra Vortex,' is a uniquely and quintessentially "American" piece. It draws upon gospel music in the same way Ives and Copland drew from the well of American folk tunes, but where those composers worked in ironic portions or references to the tunes, Glass absorbs the deep feeling and tones of gospel, without recalling any particular song. Both Glass fans and minimalist neophytes should hear this. © TiVo
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Minimal Music - Released January 6, 2012 | Sony Classical

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
The recording of the original production of Philip Glass' and Robert Wilson's Einstein on the Beach has iconic significance both in the development of the musical style unfortunately known as minimalism, as well as in the history of music in the late twentieth century. It was a watershed moment when Glass and his ensemble brought the nearly five-hour opera to the Metropolitan Opera House in 1976; his unique aesthetic convictions moved from the rarefied atmosphere of loft concerts into the face of the classical music establishment in a way that could not be ignored. One of the strengths of the work is the diversity of musical worlds it encompasses, from moments of a cappella choral singing, to relentless electro-techno tracks, to ensembles of sonically overwhelming grandeur. The most striking characteristic of Einstein is its use of repetitions, which are rarely exact -- a large part of the music's allure lies in Glass' subtle varying of the repeated patterns. The length of the patterned sections demands an extraordinary level of concentration from the performers, and listeners, regardless of their feelings about the music itself, cannot help being amazed at the virtuosity of the singers, speakers, and instrumentalists who could pull off such a remarkable feat of memory and endurance. For the listener willing to give him- or herself over to the music's spell, it can have a visceral, mesmerizing effect. The recording features a number of memorable performances, not the least by the Philip Glass Ensemble, which plays with remarkable focus, precision, and energy, and the same can be said for the disciplined vocal ensemble. Violinist Paul Zukofsky negotiates the composer's patterns with deeply felt musicality and nuance, never with a sense of meaningless repetition. The actors, Lucinda Childs, Samuel M. Johnson, Paul Mann, and Sheryl Sutton, perform with a comparable verbal and dramatic virtuosity. The sound is clear, bright, and present. Einstein belongs in the collection of anyone concerned with the most significant developments in music of the twentieth century, and of opera in particular. © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released April 3, 2020 | Hollywood Records

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Film Soundtracks - Released December 5, 2002 | Nonesuch - Warner Records

There are movies where you notice the soundtrack, and others where you don't. The latter is usually considered ideal, and yet it's impossible to ignore Philip Glass' pervasive, all-encompassing soundtrack while watching Stephen Daldy's celebrated follow-up to Billy Elliot (the same could just as easily be said of Elmer Bernstein's majestic music for Far From Heaven). This isn't such a bad thing -- far from it. The piano-dominated score, incorporating motifs from Glass' Satyagraha, Glassworks, and Solo Piano is, by turns, lush, sumptuous, and stirring. Michael Riesman is the pianist, the Lyric Quartet provides the strings, and Nick Ingman is the conductor. The fruits of their labor -- and artistry -- add depth to the action on screen without ever quite overwhelming it. The complicated storyline, based on Michael Cunningham's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel (which was, in turn, inspired by Virginia Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway) is inherently dramatic and emotionally compelling enough that it doesn't really "need" music to get its message across. And the actors, including Nicole Kidman (Virginia Woolf), Julianne Moore (Laura Brown), and Meryl Streep (Clarissa Vaughn), breathe such life into these three distinct characters, living in three different time periods, that they don't need really need the music either. But it's always there, like a ghostly presence in each woman's life, helping to tie their divergent storylines together as much as the themes that are common to each. In the end, the score is as much a unifying force as Peter Boyle's deft editing and, most importantly, Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, which was originally to be called The Hours. The CD booklet includes liner notes by Cunningham (focusing on his longtime admiration for Glass), excerpts about each character from his novel, and stills from the film. © TiVo
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Minimal Music - Released January 13, 2012 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released December 9, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released February 10, 1988 | Nonesuch

In 2002, Philip Glass toured in support of the four-disc set Glass on Film, culled from his movie scores. It was good to see that the Philip Glass Ensemble performed the long-underrated Powaqqatsi among his other collaborations with filmmaker Godfrey Reggio, because those electric keyboard works have outlasted the symphonic stuff. Back in the '80s, Glass didn't seem to think so. He aimed to become the thinking filmmaker's response to John Williams by turning his minimalist background to astringent, stately symphonic movie scores for Mishima, Hamburger Hill, and The Thin Blue Line. It's understandable how Powaqqatsi's music was overlooked: The synthesizers and the orchestra and booming percussion were uncomfortably cluttered and showbizzy. Even today, Powaqqatsi's Anthem sounds like a naked attempt at an instrumental hit like Vangelis' theme for Chariots of Fire. On the other hand, the melodic and textural similarities of the symphonic scores, plus the snatches cribbed from them for other movies, have deadened their appeal. Powaqqatsi is straight-up loud. Instead of Koyanisqqatsi's somber organ prelude (as in a Baptist service), Serra Pelada provides the mightiest track in Glass' career: a gamelan ensemble marching with a drum-and-bugle corp behind the voices of the Latin American Children's Ensemble (set off with a coach's whistle). Almost everywhere, the synthesizers and orchestra work and play together, while the tunes are actually memorable on their own. The three-part New Cities in Ancient Lands, set in China, Africa, and India, features woodwinds and keyboards from the Philip Glass Ensemble, with kalimbas and balafons strewn among the orchestra. Video Dream is simple lyricism, like the English horn that unrolls the Arabic melody of That Place. The ponderous Caught and two of the three Anthem reprises are mere clutter, but somehow Glass makes room for everything, even Foday Musa Suso's kora and vocals on Mr. Suso #1 and Mr. Suso #2 With Reflection. It adds up for a bright world music symphony. © TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released September 29, 2017 | Sony Classical

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Ten years after Laurent Charbonnier’s Les Animaux amoureux, Philip Glass gets back once again into the animal world, with a portrait of the famous primatologist Jane Goodall. The woman who spent most of her life studying chimpanzees was filmed for over 50 years by Hugo Van Lawick, a director employed by National Geographic (and future husband of the scientific). Brett Morgen, to whom we owe an acclaimed documentary on Kurt Cobain (Kurt Cobain, a Montage of Heck), has sorted these hundreds of hours of archive images, and has edited them in a movie put into music by the world famous contemporary composer, known for his minimalist works, among which film scores such as Woody Allen’s Cassandra’s Dream, Martin Scorsese’s Kundun, Peter Weir’s The Truman Show and Stephen Daldry’s The Hours. Performed by the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra and conducted by Miriam Nemcova, Glass’ soundtrack is like two locomotives travelling in parallel but different tracks: on one side, it’s on a reduced scale, for the scenes where caterpillars are filmed in close-up for example, or those depicting intimate moments between the protagonist and the chimpanzees. The impact of these human size scenes is enriched by the contribution of pianist Michael Riesman and his delicate touch (Time In Gombe). On the other side, music sometimes takes a broader point of view, when it highlights the majesty of African landscapes and Goodall’s outstanding destiny (Perfect Life). In the last case, Glass’ partition realizes Brett Morgen’s will to direct some kind of cinematographic opera with a universal humanist discourse. In this particularly poignant and poetic soundtrack, we find Philip Glass’ usual processes, such as his obsession with repetitive arpeggios, whether played by the solo piano or by the orchestra (Mother). The arpeggio is associated with musical learning, as this succession of notes forming a chord is part of the obligatory exercises of a novice pianist. The idea of the composer is thus to reflect the “young” and innovating aspect of Goodall’s scientific work. As pointed out by the title of the track Time Of Discovery, Jane Goodall is a true modern-day discoverer. Glass’ music also reflects the idea of a somewhat biased familiarity. Therefore, the harmonies from the main theme (In The Shadow of Man) operate on a scale that on the surface may seem overwhelmingly simple, in the most common mode possible (the major mode). But before arriving safe and sound, the scale deviates towards unexpected chords, causing some kind of unease for the listener. The chimpanzees’ behavior disturbingly resembles human behavior, but there are differences of course, expressed by this “distorted” major scale. With such ideas, Glass proves once again that he is a great composer whose music accompanies with intelligence and emotion what happens on screen. © NM/Qobuz
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Minimal Music - Released August 22, 1989 | Sony Classical

Philip Glass' 1987 album Songs from the Trilogy is made up of brief selections from his three portrait operas, Einstein on the Beach (1976), Satyagraha (1980), and Akhnaten (1983). It gives a good idea of what the music from the operas sounds like, but at the same time it misrepresents what the music is actually about. In developing his "music with repetitive structures" (the description he preferred over "minimalism"), Glass was creating a new kind of experience, one in which the traditional temporal expectations of a piece of music are overturned, where changes happen incrementally and very slowly over a long (sometimes a very long) span of time. A common response to his work, particularly his earlier pieces, including Einstein, was boredom followed by a visceral jolt when the listener was suddenly hit by the power of the gradually evolving changes. The snippets on this album convey the sound of Glass' music, but their brevity rules out the possibility of their having the impact the composer intended. "Trial-Prison" from Einstein on the Beach, for instance, is cut from 18 minutes to three, and most of the excerpts from Satyagraha and Akhnaten suffer a same fate, shortened to a third to a half of their original length. Still, the album is not without its merits. The gripping performances are by the Philip Glass Ensemble in Einstein, and in the case of Satyagraha and Akhnaten, taken from the original cast albums. Tenor Douglas Perry is a standout in the role of Gandhi in Satyagraha; his tone is sweet and fresh and his delivery achingly poignant. Soprano Iris Hiskey's crystalline, wordless vocalise in "Bed" from Einstein is eerily mesmerizing. In all the operas, Sony's sound is exemplary. The album may not offer much of a real sense of what the operas are like, but if it whets listeners' appetites to seek out the complete recordings it will have served a worthy purpose. © Stephen Eddins /TiVo
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Film Soundtracks - Released August 28, 2015 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released July 21, 2017 | Int - Bertus

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Classical - Released November 25, 1997 | Nonesuch - Warner Records

Philip Glass' soundtrack to Martin Scorsese's Dalai Lama epic Kundun captures the grace, beauty, joy and melancholy within the film. Glass uses familiar minimalist structures, but works with traditional Tibetan instrumentation and monks, giving the music an alluringly otherworldly feel. It's an entirely original, evocative score, and one of Glass' high-water marks in the field. © TiVo
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Classical - Released August 24, 2017 | Paradise Classical

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Classical - Released September 11, 1995 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released December 14, 2017 | Syrinx

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Classical - Released December 9, 2016 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released October 1, 2001 | Sony Classical

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Classical - Released January 26, 2007 | Sony Classical

In honor of Philip Glass' 70th birthday, Sony has devoted two CDs to 18 short works and movements of larger works, from recordings in its archive. The set provides a useful introduction to the composer's work from a relatively brief span in his long career, from 1976 to 1988. It was an exceptionally productive period for Glass; works written during that period include his three large-scale portrait operas -- Einstein on the Beach, Satyagraha, and Akhnaten -- all represented here, as well as two very popular albums of short pieces: Glassworks and Songs From Liquid Days. The collection is limited because it doesn't include many of the important works from before that period, such as Music in Twelve Parts, or any of the later music, such as the symphonies, string quartets, or film-operas, or any of the film scores that span his career, but those works aren't part of Sony's catalog. One could quibble about the selection made from the available recordings; there are four pieces from Songs From Liquid Days, probably the composer's weakest endeavor, and only about four minutes each from Einstein on the Beach and Satyagraha, two of his most significant and powerful works. The performances, mostly featuring the Philip Glass Ensemble, are authoritative and unsurpassed. Sony's sound is clean and spacious, accommodating the most monumental and the quietest moments. The program notes are in German only. © TiVo

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Philip Glass in the magazine
  • Video interview with Woodkid
    Video interview with Woodkid We met with Philip Glass fan Woodkid, who recently crossed paths with his idol at the Festival Nouveau Siècle de Saint-Étienne. The French musician and videographer discussed the influence of minim...