Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Philip Glass - Music In Twelve Parts (comp. '71-'74, rec. '75 and '87, rel. '88)

Time to work on the Glass deficit on this blog - so how about something featuring the master himself leading his early ensemble, rather than an (admittedly great) interpreter.  The three-hour Music In 12 Parts has been recorded three times to date; this is the earliest, half-recorded in 1975 then finished off in 1987, sounding admirably seamless when you listen to it right through.  I definitely recommend doing so if you've got the time to devote to it - although there's three downloads below, corresponding to the CDs in the original box set, I've set all the track numbers to run consecutively if you want to pop everything into one folder.

'Music In 12 Parts' was originally just the first 18 minutes, the title merely referring to the way the 1971 piece had been scored.  After listening to this wonderfully languid experiment in minimalist stasis, constantly changing when you examine it closely like a living organism under a microscope, a friend asked where the other 11 parts were - inspiring Glass to write them.

From here in, the tempo picks up and largely stays there, running through all sorts of twists and turns in melody, harmony and rhythm.  In the knottiest, rollercoaster-like runs, there's clear precursors of Glass' iconic Einstein On The Beach, most notably towards the end of Part 8.  The finale, however, is arguably the most fun to listen to as it gradually builds its long melody one link at a time; according to Glass, a bit of a sideswipe at having to learn 12-tone music theory in his youth and finally using it for once.

Disc 1
Disc 2
Disc 3

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