Philip Glass - The Concerto Project Vol. II: Piano Concerto No. 2 & Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra (2006) [Re-Up]

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Philip Glass - The Concerto Project Vol. II:  Piano Concerto No. 2 & Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra (2006) [Re-Up]

Philip Glass - The Concerto Project Vol. II (2006)
Piano Concerto No. 2; Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra
Paul Barnes, piano; R. Carlos Nakai, flute; Jillon Stoppels Dupree, harpsichord
Northwest Chamber Orchestra; Ralf Gothóni, conductor

EAC | FLAC | Image (Cue&Log) ~ 304 Mb | Mp3 (CBR320) ~ 163 Mb | Scans included
Classical, Minimalism | Label: Orange Mountain Music | # 0030 | Time: 00:42:30

The second release in Orange Mountain Music's 'Concerto Project' series features two world premiere recordings of works by Philip Glass, performed by the Seattle-based Northwest Chamber Orchestra under Ralf Gothóni (well-known to UK audiences as Principal Conductor of the English Chamber Orchestra since 2000).

Pianist Paul Barnes performs Piano Concerto No2, After Lewis and Clark written to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the explorers' journey across the American continent. A fortuitous meeting between Barnes and Glass on an airplane in 1995 eventually led to this concerto, but it was only composed after Orange Mountain Music's acclaimed 2003 release of the pianist's transcriptions of Glass operas 'The Orphee Suite'.

The opening movement, 'The Vision', is described by Glass as a "musical steamroller" and depicts the tremendous resolve and energy required by Lewis and Clark for their extraordinary expedition, while the last of the three movements, 'The Land', is a gloriously expansive theme and variations reflecting the great vastness of the land they explored. In between comes 'Sacagawea', an intimate movement that features a traditional Shoshone Indian theme performed on the Native American flute by renowned player R Carlos Nakai.

The dynamic flare of the piano concerto is contrasted by the album's second work, Glass's beautiful Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra. The three-movement work is played by harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree, one of America's top baroque musicians. She says it is "captivating, stunningly beautiful and mesmerizing in the best sense of the word…Though it is certainly recognizable as Glass, with its hypnotic arpeggiation in the first movement and its haunting melodic gestures in the second, in many ways it surprises with elements of both jazz and baroque styles. (It) is frolicking fun to play."

The piece is marked by refined writing for chamber orchestra which showcases the most lush sounds of the harpsichord, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer raved: "The whole well designed work had life and shape and a beautiful balance between soloist and orchestra" while the Seattle Times said that Glass "understands how to score for the harpsichord, giving the soloist plenty of trills and other effects that demonstrate its melodic as well as percussive possibilities."

Philip Glass has always been canny about finding venues for his music, and this has helped him realize large-scale projects like his operas of the 1970s and 1980s. In the years since then, even if he has not made something personal about his minimalist language in the way that his contemporary Steve Reich has, he has realized that his style can be inflected back in the direction of traditional classical forms and made to suit most any occasion. The two keyboard concertos recorded here provide pleasing examples. Neither one is a concerto in the usual sense, with the soloist defining an independent identity. Instead the keyboardists in both works generally provide Glass' trademark pulse, and in the outer movements they rarely get a rest. In the Piano Concerto No. 2, After Lewis and Clark, the most effective movement is the central "Sacagawea," evoking the Shoshone woman, pictured on the U.S. dollar coin, who saved the bacon of the two explorers. The movement is constructed around two flute themes, one of them of Shoshone origin, played here by renowned Native American flutist R. Carlos Nakai; they add something of the element of reverence that made Glass' film score Koyaanisquaatsi so successful. In the Concerto for harpsichord and orchestra Glass skillfully exploits the surface similarities between Baroque motor rhythms and his own basic procedures, using bits of jazz syncopation and some quasi-improvisatory passages, all in all creating a joyous, kinetic foot-tapper. Harpsichordist Jillon Stoppels Dupree gets into the enthusiastic spirit of the work, and conductor Ralf Gothóni, leading the Northwest Chamber Orchestra, keeps the energy level up without overwhelming the harpsichord – an aspect of the work that apparently gave Glass problems as the premiere performance (featuring these same forces) took shape. Listeners who have enjoyed hearing their local orchestras undertake one of Glass' growing catalog of symphonies would do well to try this variation on a theme.

Review by James Manheim,

Philip Glass - The Concerto Project Vol. II:  Piano Concerto No. 2 & Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra (2006) [Re-Up]


Piano Concerto No. 2, After Lewis and Clark
01. 'The Vision' - Movement I (11:13)
02. 'Sacagawea' - Movement II (10:57)
03. 'The Land' - Movement III (13:28)

Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra
04. Movement I (08:07)
05. Movement II (10:20)
06. Movement III (04:50)

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Philip Glass / The Concerto Project Vol. II

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Analyzed: Philip Glass / The Concerto Project Vol. II

DR Peak RMS Duration Track
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Philip Glass - The Concerto Project Vol. II:  Piano Concerto No. 2 & Concerto for Harpsichord and Orchestra (2006) [Re-Up]