PHILIP GLASS (b.1937): String Quartet No. 5, Suite from Dracula, String Sextet (arr. Michael Riesman [b.circa 1945]).

Catalogue Number: 09R068

Label: Naxos

Reference: 8.559766

Format: CD

Price: $11.98

Description: The 1991 Fifth Quartet dates from the years when Glass was apparently consciously trying to avoid the 'minimalist' label, and while he never abandoned his distinctive style, this work owes a great deal more to the quartet tradition than his previous works for the medium. Some passages feature contrapuntal writing, harmonic motion and an emphasis on melody that are not typical of the composer, and even the propulsive ostinati are sometimes figured and accented in ways that avoid Glass' trademark oscillations and arpeggios. Familiar gestures soon return, however, and overall the substantial five-movement piece couldn't be by anyone else. The score to Dracula - written to accompany the unscored 1931 Lugosi film - contains more of the familiar Glass gestures, in a series of atmospheric vignettes in which the composer deliberately avoided any suggestion of horror movie cliché. The music emphasizes the emotional tension of the film, which of course Glass' obsessive, edgy rhythms do very well, rather than competing with the movie's melodramatic action. The Sextet was arranged by Michael Riesman from Glass' Third Symphony, Heroes. The symphony was based on David Bowie's album and in consequence the melodic material is markedly different from Glass' usual style, so the symphony is another example of the composer's (partial) departure from his customary idiom. The sextet is half the length of the symphony, and makes a convincing chamber work in its own right. Carducci String Quartet w/ Cian O’Dúill (viola) and Gemma Rosefild (cello).


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